COVID-19 at UBC: BCCDC data shows case count decrease as province ends most COVID-19 restrictions

The COVID-19 case count has continued to decrease since the beginning of the month. According to new data released by the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), 9 new cases were reported in the UBC neighbourhood between February 15–21, down from 18 in the previous week.

There were roughly seven cases per 100,000 residents of the UBC community health service area, which is a higher per-capita case rate than the neighbouring Dunbar-Southlands, Kerrisdale and Kitsilano regions.

It is important to note that this data only includes results of public PCR testing. The COVID-19 test positivity rate for this time frame was 35 per cent, which indicates that only about 26 PCR tests were conducted. Test results from rapid tests distributed by the university are not taken into account.

Most students don’t have access to PCR testing. Currently, provincial guidelines recommend testing only for people who are highly symptomatic, unvaccinated or live or work in high-risk settings. People with mild symptoms are recommended not to test at all. There is no PCR testing site on campus, which means students have to travel downtown to access testing if they’re eligible.

Students can pick up rapid tests outside the UBC bookstore on weekdays 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., subject to test kit availability. A UBC student card must be presented to access the test kits. An update from February 22 notes that the test kit distribution site will temporarily shift indoors, to Ponderosa Ballroom, due to the cold temperatures this week.

The BCCDC reported a 98 per cent first dose vaccination rate for all individuals aged 5+ in the UBC community health service area, and a 94 per cent second dose vaccination rate. The report includes a disclaimer that out-of-town students vaccinated in this region have increased the vaccination rate estimate for the 18 to 29 age group. Hence, these numbers are not representative of the vaccination rate among UBC students and staff.

Provincial COVID-19 measures eased last Wednesday, February 16. All indoor and outdoor gatherings can now occur at full capacity, with some mask and vaccination requirements in place, although it is unclear how masking policies are enforced. Restrictions on fitness centres have been removed. Dancing is now allowed at bars, pubs and nightclubs.

As of Monday, February 22, 688 individuals were hospitalized in BC for COVID-related reasons, down from 744 on Friday. However, 44 new deaths were reported over the long weekend, pushing the seven-day average up from the previous week. Seventeen of these were from the Vancouver Coastal Health region, which reported the most deaths out of any health authority.