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One new COVID-19 death but hospital numbers encouraging, B.C.’s top doctor says

WATCH LIVE: B.C. health officials provide latest update on COVID-19

A man in his 40s is the latest person in B.C. to die from the novel coronavirus, but there continues to be encouraging signs at the province’s hospitals.

The patient, who was the only new COVID-19 death reported on Monday, died at home in the Fraser Health region, said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry at her daily news conference.

She also confirmed 63 new cases of the illness, bringing the provincial total to 1,266.

“Our percentage of new cases, as you can see, has been slowing, has been bending, and it’s a testament to the effort that everybody here in British Columbia has been making over these past few weeks,” Henry said. “But we must keep that firewall strong.”

B.C. COVID-19 hospitalizations as of April 6. Note: No data provided for Sunday, Mar. 22, Sunday, Mar. 29 and Sunday Apr. 5.
B.C. COVID-19 hospitalizations as of April 6. Note: No data provided for Sunday, Mar. 22, Sunday, Mar. 29 and Sunday Apr. 5. Data: BC CDC

The number of people in hospital with COVID-19 dropped by nine to 140 since the last update on Saturday, though the number in intensive care went up by four, to 72 patients.

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The province’s hospitals are at 58.8-per-cent capacity, with 4,422 beds available in case of a surge in hospitalizations.​

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B.C. has been in talks with the federal government about ensuring that travellers returning from outside Canada are observing the 14-day isolation period to prevent transmission of the virus, Health Minister Adrian Dix said, with joint measures on enforcement expected soon.

In the meantime, anyone returning to Canada, either by land or air travel, must have an isolation plan, he said.

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“With no exceptions,” said Dix.

“If there are gaps in the plan that some can’t fill on their own, they need support to close those gaps, and where they can’t, or don’t or won’t follow a plan, there must be enforcement.”

With a long weekend coming up, he also called on faith groups to cancel any mass gatherings in the coming weeks, as major religions celebrate annual holidays such as Ramadan, Passover, Vaisakhi and Easter.

“These are key weeks for us,” he said, asking religious groups to celebrate remotely.

On personal protective equipment, Dix said the province had just received a “small amount” of such gear from Ottawa, as well as a recent “significant” amount of N95 respirators and surgical masks.

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As of Monday, 620 adult ventilators are deployed around the province, he added. ​