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5 new COVID-19 deaths in B.C., restrictions to last until ‘at least the summer’: officials

5 new COVID-19 deaths in B.C.; restrictions to last until ‘at least the summer’
Tuesday afternoon B.C. health officials reveal the province has 43 news cases, pushing our total to 1013. Sadly five more people have died from COVID-19 in B.C. Keith Baldrey has more on the hospitalizations and how long restrictions will last.

B.C. will likely remain under strict pandemic-related restrictions until at least the summer, the province’s top health officials said Tuesday.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry delivered the grim timeline Tuesday, as she announced five new deaths and 43 new cases of COVID-19.

B.C. health officials say COVID-19 restrictions will last until ‘at least the summer’
B.C. health officials say COVID-19 restrictions will last until ‘at least the summer’
“It’s more and more [unlikely] that we’re going to be able to get back to full normal life — which I miss a lot — before at least the summer, and then we need to start preparing ourselves for the potential of a second wave in the fall,” she said.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Canada’s COVID-19 death toll surpasses 100

The virus will remain a risk until either a vaccine is developed, she added, or enough people get sick for there to be broad immunity in the community.

B.C. health officials confirm 5 new deaths, as province’s total COVID-19 cases tops 1,000
B.C. health officials confirm 5 new deaths, as province’s total COVID-19 cases tops 1,000

Experts have say a vaccine is up to 18 months away.

“I don’t believe we will have all of these restrictions for that period of time. What I do know is this is a critical part of our first wave,” said Henry.

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She said the severity of that wave and how it affected public health measures would depend on how well people complied with the current restrictions such as staying home, avoiding gatherings and remaining two metres apart.

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B.C.’s top doctor announces protocol for non-paramedic first responders during COVID-19 pandemic

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the chance of public health orders being lifted before the end of May or early weeks of June was “little to none.”

READ MORE: TSX ends its worst first quarter in over a decade amid the COVID-19 crisis

Henry said once this current epidemic wave had passed, the province can begin to think about ways to reduce restrictions and move back to focusing on containing individual imported cases and outbreak clusters of the virus.

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Twenty-four people have now died in B.C. of COVID-19, while 1,013 people have been confirmed to have the disease.

Outbreaks have been confirmed in 19 seniors’ care facilities.

Of those, however, Henry said 507 of them — more than 50 per cent — have now recovered.

That leaves 482 confirmed, active cases, 128 of whom are people in hospital and 61 in intensive care.

Health minister on ‘100-per-cent commitment’ from B.C. to fight COVID-19
Health minister on ‘100-per-cent commitment’ from B.C. to fight COVID-19

The total number of B.C. cases is unknown, as some symptomatic people have been told to assume they have the virus and self-isolate.

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Meanwhile, the Interior Health region had identified its first large community outbreak, involving temporary foreign workers at a West Kelowna agriculture business.

Bylands Nurseries has been put under quarantine, Henry said, while the affected workers are isolated in company housing and receiving care.

READ MORE: Vancouver paramedic on front line of COVID-19 crisis has gear stolen

Life after spring break: B.C. students start online learning
Life after spring break: B.C. students start online learning

Earlier Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada had signed contracts with three companies to begin producing critically needed personal protective equipment for health-care workers.

READ MORE: Canadian restaurant chain starts selling groceries amid coronavirus shutdown

B.C. has faced its own shortage of protective gear, with the province looking at ways to reduce usage, and even re-use some items.

On Monday, Health Minister Adrian Dix said the province had received a shipment of one million masks, but continued to face stiff international competition as it looked to source more gear.