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New Westminster's COVID case count drops after two-week spike

The official case count is down again after hitting a 10-week high last week.
Omicron variant COVID
The Omicron variant continues to drive the COVID-19 pandemic in B.C., where hospitalizations just hit their highest levels since February. New Westminster, however, saw the official case count drop this week.

The number of new COVID-19 cases in New Westminster has dropped again after spiking to a 10-week high last week.

Between May 1 and 7, the city saw 27 new cases of COVID-19 in the official public count — a 41% drop from the 46 cases recorded the week before.

Official public case counts don't reflect the actual number of COVID-19 cases in the city, since the vast majority of people have not been eligible for testing since the beginning of 2022, when case counts shot up dramatically in the face of the original Omicron wave. But New Westminster's trend line had generally been on a downward trajectory until two weeks ago — meaning that, among the small group of people actually eligible for official PCR testing, the number of cases had spiked for two weeks before coming back down again this past week.

B.C. is still feeling the effects of the sixth wave of the COVID pandemic, driven by the Omicron BA.2 variant. As of the the latest variant report from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control data, 99% of the positive COVID cases being sequenced in British Columbia are Omicron. The BA.2 sub-variant and its sub-lineages, BA.2.12 and BA.2.3, now account for virtually all of the province's cases. 

Provincewide, COVID-related hospitalizations just hit their highest levels since February, with 596 COVID patients in hospital this week. Of those with COVID-19 in B.C. hospitals, 54 are sick enough to be in intensive care units (ICUs.) That's the highest number of COVID-19 patients in B.C. ICUs since March 9, when 58 people were sick enough to require critical care.

Local breakdowns aren't available for hospital data, so it's unknown how many of New Westminster's 27 new cases, if any, involve hospitalizations or critical care admissions.

As of the latest BCCDC COVID data, test positivity in New Westminster stood at 20% — down from 26%, where it had been sitting for two weeks.

That puts New West in the middle of the pack of neighbouring Metro Vancouver municipalities.

In Burnaby, test positivity rates range from 19% in the southwest quadrant to 27% in the southeast, with the northeast at 22% and the northwest at 25%.

In the Tri-Cities, North Coquitlam has the lowest positivity rate, at 15%, with southeast Coquitlam at 17%, southwest Coquitlam at 26% and Port Moody/Anmore/Belcarra also at 26%.

South of the river, Surrey's positivity rates have shown some declines, with North Surrey and Guildford both at 16% and Whalley at 25%.

Who can get a COVID-19 PCR test in B.C.?

Testing for COVID-19 is only available to those who meet the eligibility criteria.

According to the Fraser Health website (as of a May 10 update), testing is recommended for people who have symptoms associated with COVID-19 infection and who fall into one of the following categories:

  • People for whom testing is clinically indicated (people who are pregnant, hospitalized or moderately to severely immunocompromised).
  • People with conditions that put them at high risk.
  • People 70 years of age or older who are fully vaccinated, with three or more chronic conditions that increase the risk of severe illness or hospitalization.
  • People 50 years of age and older who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated and who have three or more chronic conditions that increase the risk of severe illness or hospitalization; or people 50 to 69 years of age who have not yet received their booster dose and have three or more chronic conditions that increase the risk of severe illness or hospitalization; or people age 70 years and older who have not yet received their booster dose and have one or more chronic conditions that increase the risk of severe illness or hospitalization.
  • Individuals who self-identify as Indigenous.
  • Individuals who live or work in high-risk settings.

Where can I get a COVID-19 rapid test in B.C.?

If you aren't eligible for public testing but you want to know if you have COVID-19, rapid antigen tests are available for free through participating community pharmacies for all adults aged 18+.

To find a New Westminster pickup point near you, check out this list by neighbourhood.

Students in kindergarten-to-Grade 12 schools around B.C. have also been given one five-test kit apiece through their schools.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control is no longer collecting reports of positive cases from at-home tests, so rapid test results are not reflected in official case counts or positivity numbers.

– with files from Glen Korstrom

Follow Julie MacLellan on Twitter @juliemaclellan.
Email Julie, jmaclellan@newwestrecord.ca.