Is B.C. already in a 'second wave' of COVID-19?

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says it's a matter of semantics

As active cases of COVID-19 in British Columbia rise to close to triple that of last spring's spike, Dr. Bonnie Henry says it's a matter of “semantics” whether the province is experiencing the feared second wave of the virus.

On Monday, Quebec's provincial health officer said his province is undergoing the second wave of COVID-19 infections, but B.C.'s top doctor preferred the term “resurgence” for B.C.'s current situation.

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“[Quebec was] seeing quite a rapid increase in numbers over a short period of time. We've had a gradual increase in our numbers and it's slowly rising to a number we would prefer not to have,” Dr. Henry said Tuesday.

“We are certainly in a resurgence ... It could be a second wave if you want to call it that.”

As of Monday, B.C. has 1,987 active cases of COVID-19. During the province's “first wave,” active cases hit a peak of 717 on April 28, before widespread public health measures led to a dramatic reduction in cases.

Dr. Henry says the number of cases is just one indicator they are keeping an eye on as the summer ends, with factors such as hospitalizations and the number of "unlinked" cases – where the source of transmission is unknown – are also taken into account.

“We are in this for a long haul and we need to find that balance in being able to carry out activities that are important for our health and wellbeing of our community – whether that's work, or school, or elections – as well as maintaining our control over cases of COVID in our community,” Dr. Henry said.

“It's slightly semantics to say whether it's a second wave or not. It's certainly numbers that we are seeing that are similar to our first wave, which we managed to suppress very effectively here in B.C. and I believe we can continue to keep this low and slow as well as we move into the fall.”

After Premier John Horgan called a snap election Monday, Dr. Henry would not comment on whether it's prudent to make that call during B.C.'s “resurgence” in cases.

“It's not my job to call an election, that is part of our democratic political process and those decisions were made with the knowledge of what is going on,” she said, adding that she has a high degree of confidence that the election can be held safely.

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