Health officials in B.C. have confirmed the first death of a COVID-19 patient at their home, rather than a health-care facility.
It was one of two new deaths and 86 new cases of the novel coronavirus recorded in the province since Saturday, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Monday.
The BC Coroners Service said the man died at his home in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, but wouldn’t reveal his identity for privacy reasons.
Last week, Global News reported North Vancouver dentist Dr. Denis Vincent died after attending the Pacific Dental Conference, the site of a COVID-19 outbreak that infected dozens of people.
Officials would not confirm or deny whether Vincent is the first at-home death.
B.C. now has 970 lab-confirmed cases of the disease, and has recorded 19 deaths.
Henry said 469 people, or 48 per cent of cases, have fully recovered, leaving the province with 482 active cases.
Of those, 106 people are in hospital, up from 81 on Saturday. The number of people in intensive care climbed from 52 to 60.
As usual, Monday’s numbers reflected only test-confirmed cases of COVID-19, rather than the total number of people who have contracted the virus in B.C.
Many people who have mild symptoms are being asked to self-isolate at home, rather than go to get tested.
The province has said it’s focusing tests on health-care workers, people with serious symptoms, seniors’ homes, and outbreak clusters.
Critics, including some front-line health workers, have said the government is not conducting enough tests. In response, Henry said B.C. is performing more than 3,500 tests per day.
“It’s not that we’re decreasing the number of tests we’re doing. It’s that we’re focusing the testing on the people who are most likely to need the health-care services,” she said.
Henry also sought to assure health-care workers, who have been banned from working at more than one seniors’ care facility in a bid to slow the virus’ spread, that the measure will not hurt them financially.
B.C.’s health authorities will directly employ all affected workers at a set rate, Henry said, for the next six months.
“There will be a central assigning body that works, essentially under my direction under the order, to ensure each facility has sufficient staff,” Henry said.
“We have many different types of contracts and employees and we need to make sure that it’s done in a way that doesn’t disadvantage anybody and that it doesn’t allow people to pick the place that pays a higher wage, for example.”
With the province cancelling scheduled surgeries and now moving lower-urgency patients into long-term care homes to free up hospital space, B.C. now has 4,233 hospital beds available.
Health Minister Adrian Dix said officials were also preparing spaces at Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster and the Vancouver Convention Centre to temporarily serve non-COVID-19 patients.