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Opinion: COVID-19 exposures have cratered at Burnaby schools after some ugly months

COVID-19 exposures at Burnaby schools have nearly disappeared. According to Fraser Health’s list at noon on Friday, only five schools are dealing with exposures: Brentwood Park, Lakeview, Westridge, Byrne Creek and Central.
Classroom with young children COVID
Young children wearing masks in classroom

COVID-19 exposures at Burnaby schools have nearly disappeared.

According to Fraser Health’s list at noon on Friday, only five schools are dealing with exposures: Brentwood Park, Lakeview, Westridge, Byrne Creek and Central.

This is remarkable because for months the daily Fraser Health list has been averaging about 20 different Burnaby schools dealing with multiple exposure dates.

The past week has seen the number of schools on the list slowly dwindle. Will the number suddenly go up again? It seems unlikely as vaccination numbers continue to grow, including more teenagers receiving their COVID-19 shots.

British Columbia continues to see COVID-19 caseloads drop and that includes large decreases in Burnaby. 

According to the latest Geographic Distribution of COVID-19 by Local Health Area of Case Residence data for May 23 to 29, 2021, the city recorded less than 130 cases, coming in at 123. 

The data is provided by the BC Centre for Disease Control.

From May 16 to 22, 2021, Burnaby saw 182 infections detected. 

But there is one thing that could change the situation.

While COVID-19 cases continue to fall in British Columbia, variants of concern continue to wreak havoc around the world. 

Originally a variant of interest, B.1.617.2, now known as the Delta variant of concern under the World Health Organization's new naming system, surfaced in Canada earlier this year. In April, incoming passenger flights from India and Pakistan were banned in an effort to curb the spread of the highly transmissible strain

But as cases of the Delta variant surge in other parts of the country, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry told reporters in the daily coronavirus briefing on Thursday (June 3) that it isn't replacing other variants of concern in B.C.

The Delta variant isn't replacing the more common variants of concern in B.C., which are Alpha (B.1.1.7) and Gamma (P. 1). Henry noted that "those are still the more common that we are seeing. As we know, as cases are coming down, the numbers of each of these are decreasing."

Testing for variant strains has also changed in B.C. Previously, screening tests could not always differentiate between the Delta and Beta (B.1.351) strains, she said. "So we have gone now to doing whole genome sequencing on all of the new cases every day, so we can tell exactly what strains are circulating in our province."

The Delta variant has been transmitted in several clusters and there has been one outbreak in a care home that health officials are "watching very carefully."

"We've also learned that no matter what strain of the virus that we're seeing the measures that we take to reduce transmission are the same, and they work, and so far we've been watching very carefully the vaccine effectiveness, and having two doses of vaccine continues to be very effective against all of the strains that we're seeing in the province," she added.

 "Obviously, we're going to be watching that very carefully, too."

With files from the Canadian Press and Elana Shepert, Vancouver is Awesome