As British Columbia suffers a surge in confirmed COVID-19 cases, the news is even more dire in a handful of Lower Mainland communities.
Across the province, the number of new cases have risen significantly in early October. But while most regions are experiencing more COVID-19 cases, two of every three cases are being confirmed in the Lower Mainland south of the Fraser River.
In just two weeks, recently confirmed case counts have tripled in the Fraser Valley and doubled in the sprawling Fraser South region. By comparison, there have been fewer cases diagnosed in Vancouver, Richmond and the North Shore between Oct. 9 and 22 than over the same time frame last month.
(See below for a map of the Lower Mainland’s health service delivery areas.)
On Thursday, Dr. Bonnie Henry said that more than 200 of the 274 cases confirmed over the last day had been detected in Fraser Health residents. Other numbers released that day underscore the scale of the problem in the region.
In just the last two weeks, more than 1,000 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in the Fraser South region. That area, which includes the populous cities of Surrey, Langley and Delta, has seen the number of new COVID-19 cases being detected nearly double in recent weeks. Even taking into account its large population, Fraser South’s per capita new case rates are double that of Vancouver. Half of all the province’s new cases are in the Fraser South area.
Meanwhile, in the Fraser East region – which includes the Fraser Valley cities Abbotsford, Mission and Chilliwack – new case counts have tripled, from just 50 between Sept. 25 and Oct. 8 to 153 the past two weeks. The region’s case counts now exceed those seen in July when, for a short time, it had the most new cases in the province.
The Okanagan has also seen case counts double in recent weeks, although figures for that region are still less than half that seen over the summer and remain relatively low on a per-capita basis.
The BC Centre for Disease Control only releases city-level information every month, so it’s impossible to say how cases are distributed within those health regions. Past figures have shown that within Fraser South, Surrey has many more cases than Langley, while within Fraser East, Chilliwack has had many fewer cases than Abbotsford.
Health officials have warned, though, that COVID-19 is in every local community and that a lack of diagnosed cases shouldn’t lead residents to let their guard down.
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