COVID-19 in British Columbia by the numbers

As the COVID-19 outbreak in British Columbia continues, we've added a number of regular charts to help people understand the nature of the crisis, how it has developed over time, and who it affects.

We've decided to put them all here as a reference, and they will be updated regularly as the government provides more data.

It's important to note that there are several caveats to the information: B.C. has not provided data on Sunday for example, and has only provided the total number of tests periodically.

But we hope these charts are helpful in your broad understanding of how COVID-19 is affecting this province.

Cases over time

Here's a look at how the outbreak has unfolded in B.C. since the very first case was announced on Jan. 28. As you can see, it took several weeks before the province had more than a few sporadic, travel-based cases, but quickly accelerated at the beginning of March.

The chart also includes the number of new cases announced by the government each day, deaths, and people the province says have recovered from confirmed COVID-19 cases.

The government has been announcing cumulative casees since the outbreak began, rather than active ones. But we've provided that line by subtracting recoveries and deaths from the cumulative figure.

Cases by region

The province has been releasing cases by health region, and B.C. has five of them:

  • Island Health (for Vancouver Island).
  • Vancouver Coastal Health (an area comprising Vancouver, Richmond, the North Shore, and communities along the Sea-to-Sky Highway, Sunshine Coast and B.C.'s Central Coast).
  • Fraser Health (the Fraser Valley and areas of Metro Vancouver not in Vancouver Coastal Health).
  • Interior Health (generally anything in B.C.'s Interior south of Quesnel).
  • Northern Health (generally anything in B.C. north of Williams Lake).

The reason for not releasing geographic data more specific than that comes down to privacy issues, says the province. 

"We're now at the place where it's irrelevant what community you're in. The risk of this virus is everywhere in British Columbia, everywhere in Canada," said B.C.'s Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

However, the province has provided more detailed information when a health-care facility or old age home has been affected. 

Cases by age

The province released its first set of demographics on March 21, providing the age ranges of around 75 per cent of people who had tested positive for the virus in B.C. at that point. 

It showed that the majority of positive cases had been in people over the age of 50, with people over the age of 90 represented seven times more often than the population of B.C. as a whole.

That isn't unique to B.C. — older populations have been the most affected across the world — but B.C. has also skewed older in the early going partly due to the cluster of cases that developed at North Vancouver's Lynn Valley Care Centre at the beginning of March.

At the same time, the data also showed that more than a quarter of positive cases were in people under the age of 40. 

'Ahead' of the 'curve'?

This is a bit more tricky. 

Different health authorities around the world release COVID-19 cases in different ways, and because different countries test less or more often per capita than others, it's hard to be definitive on whether any place is "behind" or "ahead" of the curve than others, unless it's an extreme outlier.

However, one measurement that has proved popular is showing the spread in confirmed cases within a population after its reached the 100 case mark, using a logarithmic scale to show its exponentiality after that point. 

Here, we've charted how B.C. measures on this metric compared to several European countries, Washington State, Ontario and Alberta.