The grey region of this chart shows the growth of untraced infection, due to lack of information on potential sources. With added staff and reorganization, the gap is stabilized, Dr. Bonnie Henry says. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)

The grey region of this chart shows the growth of untraced infection, due to lack of information on potential sources. With added staff and reorganization, the gap is stabilized, Dr. Bonnie Henry says. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)

B.C. adjusts COVID-19 tracing to keep up with surging cases

People now notified of test results by text message

The growing number of COVID-19 positive tests without the likely source identified is a key sign of rapid community spread that is outpacing the growth and reach of B.C.’s contact tracing teams.

Contact tracers have been hired, transferred and trained as quickly as possible to keep up with the current surge of novel coronavirus infections, particularly in the Fraser Health region where about 70 per cent of the new cases are being identified. Public health officials have also pleaded with people to cooperate when they are contacted about their movements in likely exposure situations.

The number of “unknown” sources has been running at about 20 to 25 per cent in Fraser Health, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said, and reorganizing the reporting system has helped as the case numbers have taken off in November. Specialized teams have been assigned for workplaces, schools and health care facilities, where people are exposed in the community and then go to work or school. And test results are now being transmitted by automated text message.

“I wouldn’t say we’re losing but we’re on the edge for sure,” Henry said at a briefing for reporters in Victoria Nov. 25. “Contact tracing is something where we need to spend time with people. We’ve automated some things including the automated response so people are now getting their test results, whether positive or negative, by text with information about what to do and how to start the process of determining who they had contact with so when they are contacted, that can speed it up and there’s an online form we’re putting in place for that as well.”

RELATED: B.C. sees deadliest day Wednesday, 13 deaths, 738 cases

RELATED: B.C. plans for COVID-19 vaccine rollout in early 2021

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the original goal of adding 500 contact tracers has been revised to 1,200, and retired health care staff are stepping up to help keep up with demand. The return of the province-wide essential-only travel advisory is showing up, as people limit their movements and social contacts in a bid to get infections down before the Christmas season.

“COVID-19 everywhere in the world, the second wave is incredibly tough, and regardless of the question of resources and on top of it, we need everyone to be all-in,” Dix said. “In the last week in terms of activity in the province we’ve seen a decline in ferry traffic and other things that show how committed people are.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC politicsCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Keygan Power with brother Quintin and mom Allison while camping the weekend before Keygan’s brain hemorrhage on Aug. 2, 2020. (Photo Allison Power)
Saanich teen ‘locked inside,’ regaining speech after severe brain hemorrhage

16-year-old suffers traumatic loss of function, still plays a mean game of chess

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: Vancouver Island in a January spike while B.C. cases decrease

Island’s top doc Dr. Stanwick breaks down the Island’s rising numbers

Nearly 1,200 residents between Sooke and Port Renfrew lost power on Tuesday, Jan. 26. (BC Hydro)
UPDATE: Power restored for nearly 1,200 residents in Sooke, Port Renfrew

Outage in Port Renfrew due to fallen tree on power lines

North Saanich is giving local businesses a break by waving renewal fees for 2021. (Black Press Media file photo)
North Saanich waives business renewal fees for 2021

The municipality raised $48,000 from businesses licences in 2020

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

The North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP have arrested a prolific offender who is now facing more than 40 charges. (Black Press file photo)
‘Priority offender’ arrested in Cowichan Valley faces more than 40 charges

Tyler Elrix, 37, had a history of evading police; was ordered not to be in Vancouver Island

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Surrey RCMP are investigating after a pedestrian was struck and killed at 183 Street and Highway 10 Friday night. (File photo)
Modelling of predicted transmission growth from the B117 COVID-19 variant in British Columbia. (Simon Fraser University)
COVID-19 variant predicted to cause ‘unmanageable’ case spike in B.C: report

SFU researchers predict a doubling of COVID-19 cases every two weeks if the variant spreads

The Brucejack mine is 65 km north of Stewart in northwestern B.C. (Pretivm Photo)
B.C. mine executives see bright gleam in post-COVID future

Low carbon drives demand for copper, steelmaking coal

In this Dec. 18, 2020 photo, pipes to be used for the Keystone XL pipeline are stored in a field near Dorchester, Neb.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Chris Machian /Omaha World-Herald via AP
Canadians divided over Keystone pipeline, despite U.S. president’s permit pullback

Two-thirds of Canadians think Biden’s decision was a “bad thing” for Alberta

Cowichan Tribes chief Squtxulenhuw (William Seymour) confirmed the first death in the First Nations community from COVID-19. (File photo)
Cowichan Tribes confirms first death from COVID-19

Shelter-in-place order has been extended to Feb. 5

Most Read