New cases of COVID-19 continue to follow a slow decline in the eastern Fraser Valley, but elsewhere in the Fraser Health region cases are on an exponential rise.
Between March 12 and March 18, the Fraser East health service delivery area saw 261 new cases of COVID-19. This is up from the 248 cases the week before, but down from a high of 452 new cases in the first week of January.
The newest data from the BCCDC shows that the Fraser East area, which includes Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Mission, Agassiz-Harrison and Hope, has been continuing its overall trend downwards, despite periodic upticks in new case numbers week-to-week.
Other parts of the Fraser Valley, however, are not doing so well.
Although Fraser North had been seeing substantial increases in new case numbers throughout February, the area has now leveled off at around 600 new cases each week.
Fraser South, on the other hand, is now in its fifth straight week of increasing COVID-19 cases. The region, which includes Surrey, Delta and Langley, has gone from 764 new cases a week in mid-February to nearly double that amount between March 12 and 18.
The average daily case count in Fraser South is around 190, although on March 18, the Fraser South region had 249 new cases. This is the highest single day of new cases since early-December, when the area was averaging 277 new cases of COVID-19 a day.
The jump has given Fraser South one of the highest transmission rates in the province, at 24.2 new cases per 100,000 people each day. The highest in the province is the Northwest health service delivery area, which is seeing 38.7 new cases per 100,000 people each day.
The Northwest area includes Prince Rupert, which topped the province in the week of March 7 to 13 by seeing more than 123 cases per 100,000 people per day.
The rest of the Fraser Valley is seeing relatively little change in its daily rate of new COVID-19 cases. Fraser North is seeing 13.2 new cases per 100,000 people each day, and Fraser East is seeing 12.6 new cases per 100,000 people each day.
The data released by the BCCDC for the health service delivery areas and the local health areas is off by nearly a week, so there’s no way to know which communities within Fraser Health are driving increases in transmission. However, the week of March 7 to 13 saw Surrey having the highest rate of COVID-19 in the Lower Mainland (29.8 per 100,000 people), followed by Agassiz and Harrison in Fraser East.
Across the province, new COVID-19 cases are seeing a general increase from its low in mid-February.
Vaccine appointments are ramping up across the province however. On Monday (March 22) at noon, seniors aged 78 and up can begin booking their appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine.
The rest of the week will see vaccines open up to even younger seniors: Tuesday will be those 77 and up, Thursday will be 76 and up, and Friday will be 75 and up. Phone lines are already open for Indigenous seniors 55 and up.
Others, including firefighters, police, grocery store employees and education staff, will also be able to get their vaccines in the coming weeks, although those vaccinations will be organized through the individual’s employer, according to the province.
Fraser Health residents can book by phone at 1-855-755-2455 or online at www.Fraserhealth.ca/vaccinebooking.