Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, November 9, 2020. (Photo: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, November 9, 2020. (Photo: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)

Pandemic

Surrey, Fraser Health seeing decrease in COVID-19 cases from fall peak

Health minister says Fraser Health cases account for about 40% of province total

Fraser Health, and Surrey, is being applauded for its work to bring down COVID-19 cases since the region’s peak in the fall.

During the Feb. 5 media briefing from Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, Dix said the modelling and data indicate the “hard work for each of us has made a difference.”

He acknowledged Fraser Health specifically, pointing out that the health authority has about 38 per cent of the provincial population and about 40 per cent of the active cases.

READ ALSO: ‘The great amplifier’: COVID exposes disparities in Surrey, survey suggests, Dec. 18, 2020

In the Feb. 8 case update, Fraser Health had 1,610 of the 3,976 active cases.

“This is very different than what we saw in September and what we saw in October and what we saw in November,” Dix said.

During that time, Fraser Health was averaging between 70 and 75 per cent of the new and active cases in B.C.

Dr. Navdeep Grewal, a physician at both Delta Hospital and Mount Saint Joseph Hospital in Vancouver, said people were “really cognizant” about responding to public health orders and restrictions in the late fall when the latest restrictions were first put in place.

“I think it was a concerted effort,” explained Grewal, who is also part of the South Asian COVID Task Force, which aims to provide culturally relevant COVID-19 educational materials.

“It was authorities telling people how to decrease their risk and also just people themselves recognizing that the numbers were going up and being really, really cognizant on how to bring those numbers down themselves.”

READ ALSO: South Asian COVID Task Force working to dispel vaccine myths, Feb. 6, 2021

In the BC Centre for Disease Control’s monthly map on COVID-19 cases by local health area, Surrey had 19,295 cases between Jan. 1, 2020 and Jan. 31, 2021.

That’s about 29 per cent of the province’s total cases, which is a decrease from the end of 2020 when Surrey accounted for about 31 per cent.

In January 2021, there were 3,186 cases, according to the latest data released by the BCCDC on Feb. 5.

READ ALSO: Surrey records just under 3,200 COVID-19 cases in January, Feb. 6, 2021

However, that’s a decrease from the 5,630 cases in December and the 6,486 cases in November.

Asked if she expected cases to drop so quickly in the region, Grewal said she thought cases might rise after the holidays.

“The fact that they didn’t meant that people across all cultures, across all religions, no matter how they were celebrating the holidays, were equally doing their part in bringing the numbers down, which was really nice to see.”

That being said, Surrey’s rate of COVID-19 cases is in the 2,000-plus cases range per 100,000 people.

Grewal said there was a plateau in cases after Christmas, “which with an initial look seemed to be a good thing,” but she added it meant people were still transmitting the disease.

“We understand their fatigue. We are all fatigued. I feel it, my colleagues all feel it as well. All I can say is that there is light at the end of the tunnel. We have the vaccine, different vaccines available, (and) more coming all the time,” said Grewal.

“The numbers are only going to get better. This is a year of looking forward to the end of the pandemic, and I think we are all doing a remarkable job together of getting it that way.”



lauren.collins@surreynowleader.com

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