The Smithers Local Area (LHA) saw a significant jump in COVID-19 infections in October.
According to data published this morning by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control (CDC) the area was up to 42 cases from the time the pandemic began to the end of October, more than double what it was at the end of September.
While the CDC reports every day or every other day on regional statistics and weekly for health service delivery areas, local numbers are only updated monthly. Health authorities are still not reporting numbers for individual communities.
As of September, the Smithers LHA, which encompasses an area that includes Houston to the south and Witset to the north, had 19 confirmed cases of the disease. Most of those, 14, were related to an outbreak in Witset.
The 42 cases give the LHA an infection rate of greater than 200 per 100,000 population putting it in the same category as some of the hotspots in the Lower Mainland. In empirical terms, 42 cases in a population of 18,405, is 0.2 per cent of the population.
The doubling of the local numbers in one month comes as the spread of the virus is accelerating throughout Canada, particularly, in certain areas of Ontario and on the prairies and puts the Smithers LHA well ahead of others in the Northwest with the exception of Haida Gwaii. The islands experienced a large outbreak of 27 cases in the summer, but has been COVID-free since then.
The Burns Lake, Kitimat and Prince Rupert LHAs are all in the less than 50 cases per 100,000 population category with two, four and five cases respectively.
The Nechako LHA has had 26 cases (150.1-200 per 100,000 population), Terrace 20 (50.1-100) and Nisga’a two (100.1-150). The Upper Skeena LHA, which includes the Hazeltons, has had zero reported cases.
Northern Health reported 13 new cases Nov. 12, almost as high as the record for the region, which was 14 on Oct. 27.
For B.C., the CDC is reporting 594 new cases as of this morning (Nov. 13). Yesterday (Nov. 12), Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer expressed concern that the cases in the province are doubling every 13 days.
“We’re accelerating the number of cases in our community,” she said.
“We are in a challenging time, perhaps the most challenging time of this pandemic.”