COVID-19 in British Columbia by the numbers
Our ongoing guide to the data in B.C. — along with caveats about what information is and isn't available
As the COVID-19 outbreak in British Columbia continues, we've added a number of regular charts to help people understand the nature of the crisis, how it has developed over time, and who it affects.
We've decided to put them all here as a reference, and they will be updated regularly as the government provides more data.
It's important to note that there are several caveats to the information: B.C. has not provided data on Sunday for example, and has only provided the total number of tests periodically.
But we hope these charts are helpful in your broad understanding of how COVID-19 is affecting this province.
Cases over time
Here's a look at how the outbreak has unfolded in B.C. since the very first case was announced on Jan. 28. As you can see, it took several weeks before the province had more than a few sporadic, travel-based cases, but quickly accelerated at the beginning of March.
The chart also includes the number of new cases announced by the government each day, deaths, and people the province says have recovered from confirmed COVID-19 cases.
The government has been announcing cumulative cases since the outbreak began, rather than active ones. But we've provided that line by subtracting recoveries and deaths from the cumulative figure.
Cases by region
The province has been releasing cases by health region, and B.C. has five of them:
- Island Health (for Vancouver Island).
- Vancouver Coastal Health (an area comprising Vancouver, Richmond, the North Shore, and communities along the Sea-to-Sky Highway, Sunshine Coast and B.C.'s Central Coast).
- Fraser Health (the Fraser Valley and areas of Metro Vancouver not in Vancouver Coastal Health).
- Interior Health (generally anything in B.C.'s Interior south of Williams Lake).
- Northern Health (generally anything in B.C. north of Quesnel).
The reason for not releasing geographic data more specific than that comes down to privacy issues, says the province.
"We're now at the place where it's irrelevant what community you're in. The risk of this virus is everywhere in British Columbia, everywhere in Canada," said B.C.'s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.
Cases by age
The province released its first set of demographics on March 21, providing the age ranges of around 75 per cent of people who had tested positive for the virus in B.C. at that point. They've since updated those figures on most days, with although not everyone who has contracted COVID-19 has been counted in this figure.
It showed that the majority of positive cases had been in people over the age of 50, with all confirmed deaths coming from people over the age of 60.
That isn't unique to B.C. — older populations have been the most affected across the world — but B.C. has also skewed older in the early going partly due to the cluster of cases that developed at North Vancouver's Lynn Valley Care Centre at the beginning of March.
At the same time, the data also showed that more than a quarter of positive cases were in people under the age of 40.
'Ahead' of the 'curve'?
This is a bit more tricky.
Different health authorities around the world release COVID-19 cases in different ways, and because different countries test less or more often per capita than others, it's hard to be definitive on whether any place is "behind" or "ahead" of the curve than others, unless it's an extreme outlier.
However, one measurement that has proved popular is showing the spread in confirmed cases within a population after it has reached the 100 case mark, using a logarithmic scale to show its exponentiality after that point.
Here, we've charted how B.C. measures on this metric compared to several European countries, Washington State, Ontario and Alberta.
The government has also begun releasing data on total hospitalizations at any one time, along with the number of people requiring intensive care.
Those numbers have risen as time has gone on, but the government says that's partly due to a new strategy of getting people in hospitals earlier.
The government also says it has enough beds across the province to assist everyone, assuming B.C.'s trajectory continues at a rate equal to or lower to the outbreak in China's Hubei province. As part of their measures to ensure this, the province cancelled all non-essential surgeries.
The province has made one exception to their rule on not releasing the geography of positive cases — care homes.
"Our number of outbreaks have increased quite a bit," said Henry on April 1, announcing that B.C. had reached 21 different care homes with positive cases, all in the Lower Mainland.
The government has treated any positive case at any care home as an outbreak, whether it comes from a patient or a staff member, but says to date only the Lynn Valley and Haro Park centres have seen widespread community transmission.
However, those two homes have a combined 26 deaths.
"It really reflects the challenges when you have transmission ongoing," said Henry.
"For most of the other cases, it's a single person has been identified, and the measures so far seem most to be effective."
- An earlier version of this story misstated the boundary between Interior and Northern Health.Apr 07, 2020 4:36 PM PT