Experts are increasingly concerned about the spread of more transmissible coronavirus variants in British Columbia and a consequent increase in severe cases of COVID-19 which they believe could overwhelm hospitals in the province.
Doctors say they see younger patients with the disease – between the ages of 20 and 50 – requiring intensive care, unlike mainly elderly people who fell seriously ill in the first year of the pandemic.
“We know that this is largely the variant[s], and it seems to be a more transmissible strain and it also seems that people are getting sicker with some of these variants, ”said Dr Gerald Da Roza, chief of medicine at the Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster, Colombia -British.
Da Roza says intensive care unit (ICU) admission has increased in recent weeks at the hospital, where he reported patients have spilled over to other departments.
“Some people say it’s the busiest we’ve been in 15 years,” he said.
WATCH | How the P1 variant settles in British Columbia:
The variants of concern in British Columbia are B117, first detected in the UK, and P1, associated with Brazil. Cases of the two have so far been concentrated in the Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health Authority areas, BC Health Minister Adrian Dix said on Monday.
He said the number of cases of the P1 variant nearly doubled over the Easter weekend.
“The more transmissive variants of COVID-19 will eventually gain the upper hand,” the minister said.
Dix said 60 of the current 320 cases of coronavirus in British Columbia hospitals were linked to worrisome variants. He also confirmed that there was pressure on intensive care units, particularly at the Royal Columbian and Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver.
‘Worrisome’ spread of P1
British Columbia is now identified by epidemiologists around the world as a notable hotspot for the P1 variant which has spread unchecked across Brazil, where COVID-19 has killed more than 300,000 people.
Washington-based epidemiologist and health economist Dr Eric Feigl-Ding says the accelerating community spread of mutations in British Columbia is “worrying.”
He said the P1 variant is more than twice as transmissible as the original coronavirus and that initial data suggests it causes higher death rates and affects younger people more than the original strain.
Feigl-Ding, a senior researcher at the Federation of American Scientists, sounded the alarm a few weeks ago by comparing British Columbia to Florida, where there are also more and more variants.
Health Canada reported 379 cases involving the P1 variant of concern in British Columbia on April 1, up from 84 on March 22.
As of Monday, the federal government’s COVID-19 database reported 3,559 cases of worrying variants in British Columbia. Of these, 2,771 were B117s, 737 were P1s and 51 were B1351s.
Canucks off ice
The fact that many Vancouver Canucks players have been affected – despite strict NHL safety protocols, testing and the use of personal protective equipment – should serve as a wake-up call, Feigl-Ding said .
“I think it woke people up because people think … young people are healthy, especially if you are an athlete. You train well, you shouldn’t have any problems,” he said. he declares.
As of Monday night, a total of 17 Canucks players – most of the team’s active players – were officially held off the ice under the league’s COVID protocols, although that doesn’t necessarily mean all of them. 17 have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Several sources say an anonymous player from the team’s “taxi reserve” is in quarantine and three members of the coaching staff have tested positive.
While health officials and the NHL declined to confirm that the team’s outbreak involved one of the variants of the coronavirus, hockey insiders from media sources such as The Sports Network and The Province said that she was suspected.
One of the affected players, Jayce Hawryluk, contracted COVID-19 last year.
Let yourself be invaded by the rich sports franchise, the NHL @Canucks :
—Had & gt; 50% of his team # COVID19 disgusted
—Many decimated “very sick”
—Despite strict workplace protocols
—Despite the high budget for PPE
—Despite daily testing
Da Roza said it was now a race to get people vaccinated to offset the increase in infections he is seeing among young British Columbians.
British Columbia rolls out its vaccine largely based on age, starting with the oldest. As of Tuesday, all residents born in 1950 or before are now eligible for their first injection.
Da Roza urges people to be vigilant that the variants no longer cause the pandemic.
“Hang on for a few more months and be smart,” he advised.