Experts call for more detail on COVID-19 transmission as B.C. case numbers climb

Two B.C. experts are calling on health officials to release more details on how and where COVID-19 transmissions are occurring, saying there needs to be more transparency.

The calls come just one day after B.C. marked 1,072 new cases, the highest single-day total since the pandemic began.

Dr. Brian Conway, president and CEO of the Vancouver Infectious Disease Centre, says the number is “not unexpected,” mostly because they are infections that occurred before the new public health measures were put into place last week.

But, he says, people deserve more details, particularly as some Vancouver restaurant owners openly defy the orders to close indoor dining.

“There is a little bit of civil disobedience going on,” Conway told CTV News Vancouver on Sunday.

“(There should be) more messaging that comes from public health authorities to explain the numbers to us, to explain that it is or is not related to variants, where specifically they think the transmission networks are occurring,” he added.

The message is also echoed by a mental health expert from UBC. Azim Sharif is an associate professor of psychology and says when it comes to behaviour, people are calculating risks based on the information they receive.

“We know that people aren’t going to follow the recommendations perfectly,” he said.

“I, for one, am disappointed we haven’t got more information about where the transmission is happening,” Sharif said. “I think more information almost always tends to be better.”

While he believes health officials have done a good job of steering B.C. through the pandemic so far, he says some mixed messaging can form mistrust.

“When you undermine trust, you undermine compliance, when you undermine compliance the consequences tend to be bad,” Shariff said. “Transparency does build trust.”

In a rare move, Health Minister Adrian Dix spoke with the media on Easter Sunday, saying intensive care units across the province are becoming overwhelmed.

“I’m not one bit happy with where we are now,” Dix said.

He also condemned the actions of two restaurant owners who chose to keep their indoor dining open, against the new rules.

“I'm frustrated at the behaviour here, the behaviour is what’s in question,” he said. “There’s no illusion. No one misunderstands the rules. Indoor dining is not allowed right now in British Columbia.”

While Dix provided no extra detail on the impact variants are having on transmissions, he renewed his plea for British Columbians to do their part.

“It’s necessary right now to stop the transmission of this virus which is vicious and doesn’t listen to our debates,” he said.