A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

B.C.’s top doctor says the province plans to regularly release neighborhood-specific COVID-19 case counts and immunization rates following a leaked report that left some questioning an apparent gap between the level of data collected and what was provided to the public eye.

According to B.C. Centre for Disease Control documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun, a recent internal report shows the distribution of coronavirus cases broken down to more localized B.C. neighbourhoods than what has been released since the pandemic began early in 2020.

Currently, officials release weekly case counts segmented by Local Health Service areas, which can include groupings of populations of cities the size of Surrey (over 500,000). The internal report doesn’t show broken down data for rural regions.

News agencies across the province, including Black Press Media, have asked in the past for more detailed breakdowns of COVID cases, with officials stating concerns of privacy.

There have been 134,000 confirmed cases of the contagious respiratory illness in B.C. since January 2020.

Other regions in the country, such as Toronto and central Alberta, are seeing steady daily case counts reported in neighbourhood data.

BC Centre for Disease Control data in a leaked report from April 30, which was obtained by the Vancouver Sun and published on May 7, 2021.

BC Centre for Disease Control data in a leaked report from April 30, which was obtained by the Vancouver Sun and published on May 7, 2021.

The more detailed breakdown of confirmed cases comes as health authorities are announcing how vaccines will be rolled out, based on ever-changing supply. While the province is using an age-based method (older British Columbians to get vaccine access first), there have been pop-up clinics targeting what officials have dubbed as “hotspots” for transmission.

Data wasn’t ready for public eyes, officials say

Vice-president Dr. Réka Gustafson of the B.C. CDC said the data wasn’t disclosed because it wasn’t “at the standard” the B.C. CDC considers viable for release to the public.

Workers dedicate their time to collect and distribute data based on what is of interest at the time, Gustafson said at a news conference Friday.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said B.C. “doesn’t have systems to support the consistent collection of the same data over time.”

“We have huge gaps still,” she said, noting a lack of collected data on workplace outbreaks and minority groups in communities of the province.

“Every single day we are looking to making this better,” Gustafson said.

As it stands, health regions are more often able to provide up-to-date data on COVID-19 cases and immunizations than provincial-level officials.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Just Posted

Work has begun on the $10-million, 120-kilometre fibre-optic line from Playmor Junction to north of Nakusp. File photo
Work begins on Slocan Valley fibre-optic line

The $10-million, 120-kilometre fibre-optic line runs from Playmor Junction to north of Nakusp

Prince Charles Secondary School
School District 8 votes in favour of name change for Secondary School in Creston

In an act of reconciliation, a new name will be chosen for Prince Charles Secondary School

Nelson City Council decided against granting a backyard chickens exemption to a Rosemont resident at its June 15 meeting. Photo: Zachariah Smith/ Unsplash
Nelson council says no to backyard chickens

Chickens attract bears and rats, say experts

Jade Osecki leading a Fridays for Future climate march in Nelson in 2020. Photo: Submitted
Nelson Grade 12 student Jade Osecki wins Suzy Hamilton Award

Carolyn Schramm was also honoured in this year’s environmental award for West Kootenay women

Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison. Photo courtesy Conservative Party of Canada.
MP Morrison appointed to parliamentary national security committee

Kootenay-Columbia parliamentarian one of five candidates appointed to national security committee

We are serious journalists.
VIDEO: Wednesday Roundup

Tyler and Bill talk about chickens, sled dogs and other newsy news

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Chief Rosanne Casimir stands outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School after speaking to reporters, in Kamloops, B.C., on Friday, June 4, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Kamloops chief says more unmarked graves will be found across Canada

Chief Rosanne Casimir told a virtual news conference the nation expects to release a report at the end of June

A woman wears a vaccinated sticker after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. ranks among highest in world in COVID-19 first-dose shots: health officials

More than 76% of eligible people have received their 1st shot

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.-Alberta’s Indigenous languages, art and culture

Advisor says initiative supports the urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

An artists conception of the new terminal building at the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport.
Air travel taking off in B.C., but lack of traffic controllers a sky-high concern

There will be demand for more air traffic controllers: Miller

Canadian Armed Forces experts are on their way to North Vancouver after a local homeowner expressed worry about a military artifact he recently purchased. (Twitter DNV Fire and Rescue)
Military called in to deal with antique ‘shell’ at North Vancouver home

‘The person somehow purchased a bombshell innocently believing it was an out-of-commission military artifact’

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz have set their wedding date for February, hoping that more COVID-19 restrictions will have lifted. (The Macleans)
B.C. couples ‘gambling’ on whether COVID rules will let them dance at their wedding

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz pushed back their wedding in hopes of being able to celebrate it without the constraints of COVID-19

Most Read