The demographic makeup of COVID-19 cases in British Columbia has changed dramatically in recent weeks, with children under the age of 10 now accounting for the largest proportion of new confirmed infections in the province.
Since the first week of September, cases in that age group went from about 12 per day per 100,000 people to 19 on September 23, the highest per capita infection rate of any age group, and the one that skyrocketed. as the others decrease. .
The analysis comes from one of the province’s highest-profile data analysts and a member of the BC COVID-19 modeling group, which is comprised of independent scientists and researchers.
“It’s the highest it’s ever been and it still looks like it’s going up,” said the data scientist. Jens von bergmann. “Right now, those under the age of 10 are becoming more infected than ever in any time period during this pandemic.”
Von Bergmann points out that while the sudden spike coincides with the start of school, there’s no guarantee that’s what drives the numbers. Still, since BC does not require kindergarten through third grade students to wear masks, it is urging public health officials to prioritize analyzing the phenomenon.
“It’s worrying, and children are always an emotional issue for a lot of people, but that’s why we really need to pay close attention and I hope public health is working hard right now to get to the bottom of this,” he said. the data and see if some of those things, like masks, and if that’s not effective enough, maybe they’ll add other things as well, besides expanding the mask’s mandate, like better ventilation, for example. “
BC DOWNPLAY COVIDED RISKS FOR CHILDREN
Despite the fact that pediatricians in the United States warn that children are more susceptible to the ultracontagious Delta variant, in part because they cannot be vaccinated, British Columbia’s public health and education leaders have maintained their plan for one school year. ” normal “that does not emphasize testing or improving ventilation, nor the cohort and distancing that he did at the end of the last school year.
“I think it’s something we need to watch carefully,” said Dr. Laura Sauve, an infectious disease pediatrician at BC Children’s Hospital.
“We saw similar increases last year that then leveled off … Our public health colleagues will be watching closely to decide if there is any action they need to take.”
He noted that pediatricians and hospitalists are seeing an increase in cold, flu and RSV cases in the emergency department, but have not seen a significant increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations there.
“I think it’s a good idea to get tested if you have symptoms,” Sauve said. “It is also helpful to know when children do not have COVID, and it is important to stay home when we are sick right now, whether we have COVID or another virus.”
But COVID-19 itself is undoubtedly spreading. A Surrey family recently shared their experience with tracking and delayed contact notifications, and another family contacted CTV News, alarmed that close contacts who were vaccinated were not told to isolate themselves and that children from various schools were showing symptoms but you were not contacted by Fraser Health.
CTV News has verified that mother and daughter tested positive for COVID-19. They say that some of their close contacts who show symptoms are having trouble accessing the limited tests available in the community; The family has conducted a contact tracing exercise of its own, with a friend outlining the web of possible exposures and infections that could involve multiple schools.
Illustrated by S. Chung
“The health authority emailed me a generic self-isolation notice to forward myself to our contacts,” said the mother, who believes her daughter contracted COVID-19 at school and does not wish to be identified.
“Because it comes from me and not directly from the health authority, our contacts are not sure how long to stay in isolation, as I am just a mother, not an authoritative source on isolation protocols.”
AN ASCENDING THREAT?
A grassroots movement to document COVID-19 exposure advisories in schools by a Richmond parent has already registered more than 200 exhibition notices to local schools, and the list is growing rapidly.
While few children have required intensive care for COVID-19, a newborn recently spent an indeterminate amount of time in the ICU before being discharged, and it appears that a 10 to 12-year-old is still there. On Friday, the Health Minister revealed that a second under the age of 19 is currently in the ICU.
Sauve told CTV News that the trend of one to two percent of children with confirmed COVID-19 infections needing hospitalization has continued in British Columbia, even though the Delta variant had replaced all other strains of the coronavirus in July.
BC only allows testing of children with symptoms and isolates confirmed cases, but does not routinely test classmates to proactively detect more potential cases. With more of them testing positive, regardless of what many experts describe as a low testing rate, there is growing concern.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, physicians of various types and positions expressed concern about the province’s laid-back approach to schools, noting that one or two percent doesn’t seem like much, but with few pediatric care beds available at best. the cases. , the increase in the infection rate should raise alarms among policy makers.
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