With COVID-19 cases surging and ICU’s projected to be full by early February, Ontario will be under a stay-at-home order beginning Thursday. While B.C. hasn’t seen the same post-Christmas surge as Ontario, Dr. Brian Conway with the Vancouver Infectious Diseases Centre says British Columbians can’t get complacent. 

“It could potentially happen here, and that’s why we need to be ever more vigilant,” he said. “We’re good, but we’re not that far away from being not good, because Ontario was probably good not that long ago.”  

In fact, B.C. had more active COVID-19 cases per capita than Ontario for the entire month of December. Conway doesn’t believe the difference in cases and hospitalizations between B.C and Ontario since Christmas is all about behaviour. 

“I think it boils down to the fact that quite fortunately, we’ve not had as wide community-based transmission as a result of this behaviour as has been observed in Ontario,” said Conway. “That being said, it is possible, if we are not careful, we will wind up in the same situation.”  

Caroline Colijn, an infectious disease modeller at SFU agrees. “We shouldn’t get complacent, and I think that’s absolutely right,” she said. “We shouldn’t think we’re special.”

Both experts believe B.C. needs to ramp up testing, and they’re worried the recent surge in Ontario may be partly attributed to the new U.K. variant of COVID-19.

“That did cause, in the U.K., a much steeper increase in cases than you would expect based on the measures in place. What we are seeing is Ontario in a steeper increase in cases than you would expect based on the measures that are in place,” said Colijn. 

Ontario has reported 14 cases of the new variant and officials believe it could be spreading more widely in the community. If that happens in B.C., Colijn and Conway believe it may be hard to stop.

“Lets not get cocky, let’s remain vigilant,” said Conway. While B.C’s COVID case numbers and hospitalizations remain relatively stable, he said we should “congratulate ourselves on being where we are, and feel fortunate about it. But understand that it is our day-to-day behaviour that will maintain this good fortune.”