Coronavirus: B.C. reports 5 new deaths, lowest number of hospital cases since March

WATCH: B.C. health officials hold April 8 update on COVID-19 response in the province.

British Columbia has recorded another five deaths from COVID-19, but the number of patients in hospital dropped for the third consecutive day, health officials said Wednesday.

Three of the deaths occurred at seniors’ care facilities, one at the Lynn Valley Care Centre and two, for the first time, at Amica Edgemont Village.

A total of 226 people living or working in long-term care or assisted-living facilities have contracted the disease.

The disease has now claimed 48 lives in B.C.

Hospitalizations from the novel coronavirus peaked last Thursday, at 149 people, before leveling out over the weekend.

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On Wednesday, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said 135 COVID-19 patients were in hospital, down three from the day before. Sixty-one patients were in intensive care, down five.

B.C. has confirmed a total of 1,336 cases, 838 of whom are considered fully recovered.

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Two people have now died in their homes while self-isolating with COVID-19 in B.C.

Dr. Henry said public health officials do check in daily with people in that situation, but that doctors are still learning about the virus.

She said officials now understand that there is a “critical point,” usually during the second week of an infection, where a patient’s condition can deteriorate rapidly.

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‘Bend the curve, not the rules:’ B.C. health minister has message ahead of long weekend

She said anyone who finds themselves in that situation should reach out for urgent care.

“If you have concerns about shortness of breath, if you have concerns that your fever and your [illness] is not resolving, particularly after five to six to seven days, call 811,” she said.

“Call 911 if you can’t breathe, if you’re feeling short of breath, if you have chest pain.”

Evolving testing strategy

Henry acknowledged Wednesday that B.C. had been doing less testing recently than in previous weeks, a factor driven by the province’s focus on testing vulnerable populations.

However, as fewer and fewer of those tests come back positive, she said health-care workers were now shifting back to testing a larger number of people in the community.

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“One because we have the capacity, but also because as influenza goes away, anyone who has a respiratory illness now has a higher probability of having COVID-19,” she said.

Henry said the total number of tests would start to climb again in the coming days, but that the testing strategy would continue to evolve in response to the way the virus was spreading in the province.

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