COVID-19 at UBC: Case rates remain persistently low as testing challenges continue

In the week following Halloween, UBC is continuing to see low COVID-19 case rates, according to updated data from the BC Centre for Disease Control.

From November 2 to November 8, the UBC neighbourhood saw an average of one daily case per 100,000 residents, down slightly from two last week. The test positivity rate for all tests rounds down to zero per cent, decreasing from one per cent last week. This data only includes people with a permanent address in the UBC community health area — the area west of Blanca — and does not include commuter students.

Vaccination coverage remains unchanged from last week with 97 per cent of eligible residents 12+ having received one dose and 94 per cent with two doses.

Michael Schwandt, medical health officer at Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH), posted that between October 24 and October 31, there were six COVID-19 cases identified among post-secondary students and staff living in the region. Cases in this category have been falling or stable since the first week of school when 42 cases were recorded. At a UBC Board of Governors meeting in September, another VCH medical health officer said its internal UBC dashboard would likely not be released publicly, citing privacy and mental health considerations.

Concerns around access to COVID-19 testing on campus continued to escalate this week.

The rapid testing clinical trial at Irving K. Barber Learning Centre unexpectedly closed two weeks ago without explanation. The Ubyssey has reached out to the School of Nursing for comment.

Additionally, the student-run COVID-19 tracker reported that community members continue to use UBC Hospital as an unofficial testing site. Over the past year, students have repeatedly expressed concern about the lack of symptomatic testing on campus. HealthLink BC continues to advise students living on campus to take transit 50 minutes downtown to the nearest COVID-19 collection centre run by VCH. When asked about opening a testing site closer to campus, the health authority has sent The Ubyssey the same statement since November 2020, saying it is “committed to delivering timely and accessible COVID-19 testing.”

As of publishing, the only COVID-19 testing site on campus is UBC’s mandatory rapid testing program for asymptomatic students, faculty and staff who are not fully vaccinated or have refused to declare their vaccination status.