COVID-19 at UBC: Positivity rate rises slightly as gyms, fitness centres prepare to reopen

Cases of COVID-19 at UBC have continued to trend upwards, according to new data from the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC).

The BCCDC has reported a 43 per cent testing positivity rate in the UBC community health service area between January 11 and January 17, a three per cent increase from the previous week. Thirty-two new cases of COVID-19 were reported, 12 more than the previous update.

However, low testing capacity across the province means that specific case numbers are likely higher.

These numbers suggest that roughly 75 tests were conducted on UBC area residents in this period. The BCCDC data only includes symptomatic PCR test results, excluding positive results obtained via rapid test. The closest testing site to campus only distributes rapid tests.

Ninety-seven per cent of UBC area residents aged 12+ are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while 83 per cent of those 70+ have received their booster doses.

In Vancouver-Westside, roughly west of Cambie, 38 per cent of residents 12+ have received their booster doses.

However, the BCCDC has released inaccurate data in the past due to an inaccurate population size at UBC, including impossibly high vaccination rates.

Province-wide hospitalizations reached new highs this week, according to the Provincial Health Office (PHO).

As of January 18, 854 British Columbians are hospitalized with COVID-19, 112 of whom are in intensive care. The PHO is expecting hospitalizations to peak sometime this week, before declining along with case numbers.

The province has extended most COVID-19 restrictions until at least February 16. This includes closures of bars and nightclubs, as well as 50 per cent capacity limits on theatres and sporting events.

However, gyms and fitness centres will gradually reopen with mask mandates and capacity limits starting January 20. UBC Recreation confirmed that on-campus fitness centres will reopen that day, although reservations will be required to work out and visits must be limited to 55 minutes per person.

In-person classes remain on track to begin February 7.

UBC and Vancouver Coastal Health will no longer be providing broad PCR testing on campus, a reversal of previously announced plans, due to changes in public health guidance.