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Health officer: Schools not increasing COVID-19 transmission

By Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Published 4:24 PDT, Mon October 5, 2020

Back-to-school season has not yielded an increase in COVID-19 transmission, said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

“What we’re not seeing is schools amplifying transmission in the community,” she said during an update today.

With 500,000 staff and students back in school across BC, Henry said children under 19 still make up less than 10 per cent of new cases.

Children under age 10 represent 10 per cent of the population, but only five per cent of positive cases are people in this age range, said Henry. She added that youth aged 10 to 19 are also under-represented in new cases. There have been no deaths in people under age 19, no critical care admissions, and less than one per cent of these cases have required hospitalization.

The testing rate is four times higher for kids aged five to 12 and two times higher for youth aged 13 to 18. Six in 10 tests in school-aged children are now spit and gargle tests, and only seven in 1,000 are positive. Henry said some school-aged children are having symptoms caused by other things rather than only COVID-19.

Prior to Oct. 1 there were 50 school exposures, split roughly evenly between elementary and secondary schools. Most school exposures are in Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health, where the largest school districts are located. Since Oct. 1 there have been an additional 14 exposure events, including the first on Vancouver Island.

“We have seen an increase (in cases in school-aged children), but it has levelled off and it’s not been a large increase,” said Henry.

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