Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry on Monday presented data showing that an increase in Delta variant cases of COVID-19 and a sudden increase in social contacts could lead to an overall rise in COVID-19 in the province.
In the latest epidemiological modelling data presentation, Henry said the numbers show cases could jump back over 150 per day by the end of August if social contacts get to 80 per cent of normal and the Delta variant makes up 50 per cent of cases.
The Delta variant currently makes up 12 per cent of variant cases, but has been doubling each week for the past few weeks. Variants now make up more than 90 per cent of all of B.C.’s cases.
But even with these concerns, officials said the province has seen a significant drop in total cases, opening the door for a move to Step 3 in the government’s reopening plan on July 1.
Henry also reported the latest case numbers over the last 72 hours: 57 cases from Friday to Saturday, 50 cases from Saturday to Sunday, and 39 from Sunday to Monday.
It brings the seven-day moving average for new cases in B.C. down to 62 — the lowest since Aug. 13. Active cases also slipped below 1,000 for the first time since last August.
The province has far exceeded one of its criteria for moving to Step 3: having at least 70 per cent of the 18+ population vaccinated with at least one dose. As of Friday, that number was 77.6 per cent.
In Step 3, all sectors will drop COVID-19 safety plans and must follow communicable disease prevention guidance from WorkSafeBC.
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Masks are expected to no longer be mandatory, but recommended in all public indoor settings.
Step 3 will also mark a return to normal for indoor and outdoor personal gatherings, as well sleepovers for kids.
For organized gatherings, the capacity will increase both indoor and outdoor when following communicable disease prevention guidance.
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Fairs and festivals can operate when following communicable disease prevention guidance, and Canada-wide recreational travel will be encouraged.
If the province moves to Step 3 on Thursday as expected, there will be no group limit for indoor and outdoor dining, and the liquor service restrictions will be lifted.
Casinos and nightclubs will be allowed to operate with a limited capacity and must follow communicable disease prevention guidance.
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