COVID-19 at UBC: Test positivity dips as testing becomes less available across BC

The BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) is reporting a 36 per cent positivity rate for the UBC community health service area between January 18 and 24, a decrease from last week’s positivity rate of 43 per cent.

Thirty-two cases of COVID-19 were reported in the neighbourhood in that time period, the same number as was reported last week. These cases only include PCR tests — rapid tests are not included in case counts, despite those being the primary form of testing available in BC right now.

Thirty-two new cases being reported alongside a 36 per cent positivity rate suggests that 89 PCR tests were performed on symptomatic UBC area residents, despite the region having thousands of residents. The nearest PCR testing site is located in Downtown Vancouver, roughly 50 minutes from campus by transit.

On Friday, BC announced changes to who is eligible for testing, making these numbers going forward less useful. Now, regardless of symptoms, only unvaccinated people, immunocompromised people and people who live or work in high-risk settings are eligible for testing.

While the test positivity number will still provide some gauge to how COVID-19 is developing at UBC, the case counts will now be less and less relevant.

Ninety-eight per cent of UBC neighbourhood residents aged 12+ are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while 84 per cent of residents aged 70+ have received their booster doses. Currently, the BCCDC is not releasing UBC-specific data for those under 70 who have received their booster doses.

However, the BCCDC does release booster dose data for Vancouver-Westside (roughly the area west of Cambie). In that area, which includes UBC, 35 per cent of people 18–49 have their third dose.

UBC’s delivery of classes continues to be mostly online, but the university is set to announce its plans post-February 7 within the next couple days.

President Santa Ono said at a Board of Governors meeting on January 25 that he was personally in favour of going back in-person as soon as possible, but that he is not the only person making this decision.