A mix of stricter regulations and public compliance have helped push B.C.'s COVID-19 curve back down, health officials said Monday while unveiling the latest modelling data.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the province's reported cases have been trending downward over the past two weeks, a welcome sight after the steady and alarming surge that began over the summer.
"That increase has slowed and is now turned and is coming down again," Henry said. "Our growth rate is decreasing, which means that we are having safe connections in our communities now, that people are doing the right thing."
Henry also credited some public health orders, including the closure of banquet halls and tighter restrictions on bars and restaurants, for the improved outlook.
B.C. is still recording more daily cases than it was back in March and April, adding 358 to its total this past weekend alone. But the daily average over the past two weeks has been 109, down from a daily average of 121 in the two weeks prior.
Officials now estimate B.C. residents are having 45 per cent of their pre-pandemic contacts, which is a significant drop from the 65 to 70 per cent they reported during their last modelling update, when they warned the province was at the "precipice" for an explosion in cases.
"That's where we need to stay. That's what will keep us on this low and slow curve through the next few months, particularly as we go into respiratory season," Henry said.
The modelling data also shows the province's current "reproductive number" – which measures how many times the average person with COVID-19 transmits it to others – has dropped below one for the first time in months.
"We are opening schools, people are going back to work, but we're having safe connections and so, on average, fewer infections for each case," Henry said. "Each case is now transmitting, on average, to fewer than one person."
The provincial health officer also noted that certain people are still spreading it to large numbers of people because they shed more of the virus than others, for reasons that researchers don't yet understand.