An internal B.C. Health Authority report shows View Royal had a higher number of COVID-19 cases and higher test positivity rates than the rest of Greater Victoria during the week of April 23 to 29.
The leaked data, obtained by the Vancouver Sun last week, broke down new COVID-19 cases, positivity rates and vaccination rates by neighbourhood, something the B.C. Centre for Disease Control has consistently refused to do publicly, despite repeated requests from media around the province. Instead, it has been sharing data by larger geographic areas, giving no municipal level information.
During the week of April 23 to 29, View Royal had the highest occurrence of new cases — between 20.1 and 40 per 100,000 residents. The Interurban/Tillicum neighbourhood and Colwood were next in line with between 5.1 and 10 new cases per 100,000 residents. The rest of Greater Victoria had less than five new cases per 100,000 people, except for Oak Bay and North Saanich which both had no new cases.
View Royal Mayor David Screech said after the data leaked, Island Health officials contacted him to let him know the high number of cases that week were a blip, and that the following week View Royal had “among the lowest cases in the province.” That data has not been released publicly.
“I do also agree that more information can be a useful tool for all,” he said but maintains confidence in Island Health.
“If there was a significant, consistent trend, I would hope that that they would reach out and make sure elected leaders and municipal officials were informed, but as a one-off, I’m not massively concerned.”
View Royal also led in test positivity, with a rate of between 10.1 and 20 per cent. Colwood and Interurban/Tillicum had less than 10 per cent, Esquimalt and Langford had between 1.1 and two per cent positivity.
Vaccination rates in View Royal, with an estimated population of almost 12,000 people, were matched by most of Greater Victoria at between 21 and 40 per cent of people having received the first dose. Oak Bay, North and Central Saanich, Sidney and the Royal Oak/Cordova Bay/Prospect health areas were higher with 41 to 60 per cent partially vaccinated.
Following the release of internal data, the BCCDC’s vice-president Dr. Reka Gustafson said the data hadn’t been publicly disclosed before because it wasn’t “at the standard” to release. Nonetheless, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the province will begin regularly releasing neighbourhood-specific data.
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