By Fran Yanor, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

After nearly two weeks of dramatic and escalating public health restrictions, B.C.’s rate of new COVID-19 cases is slowing, making the next two weeks critical, says B.C. provincial health officer.

“There’s a slight chance of optimism perhaps, that our rate of growth is being impacted by the measures that we’ve put in the last couple of weeks,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry. By Mar. 25, reported cases of COVID-19 in B.C. were 130 cases per million, down from an expected 215 per million.

Which means, social distancing, rigorous hand-washing and sanitizing of touch surfaces, public venue closures, self-isolation orders for those who are infected, and a call to protect the most vulnerable from infection exposure, have had an effect.

According to Ministry of Health modelling, mass societal physical distancing and travel restrictions started altering the trajectory of the virus spread on about Mar. 21, when B.C.’s rate of new cases reduced from an average daily increase of 24 per cent to a daily increase of 12 per cent.

Still, there’s no end in sight. Yet.

“We still have ongoing transmission in our community,” said Henry. “And we know that because we’re doing quite a lot of testing and we’re still seeing cases arise.”

Which means the public has to double down on everything that is working.

“It’s going to be the next two weeks after this,” said Henry. At that time, health officials want to see the rate of new COVID-19 cases hold steady, then reduce new infections every day.

“It really speaks to how important everything we’re doing now, is for our future,” Henry said. “And how important it is for a hundred percent of people to commit to doing the distancing we need.”

[email protected]