B.C.’s top doctor announced three new deaths and 35 new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus on Saturday, while continuing to urge people to stay home during the Easter long weekend.
The province has now confirmed 1,445 cases of COVID-19, 58 of whom have died.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the province’s requirement for all returning travellers to have an approved self-isolation plan went into effect Friday, and reminded British Columbians to limit their travel despite the holiday.
“I sincerely hope that most people have avoided any unnecessary travel” this weekend, she said. “We know these physical distancing measures are in place, and we know they’re so important to be able to continue the trend we are having in managing this pandemic.
“It’s so important to keep going with everything that we are doing right now.”
No new outbreaks have been confirmed at any additional long-term care facilities in B.C., Henry said, where more than 200 of the province’s cases have been reported. Twenty seniors’ homes are currently seeing outbreaks.
Henry said five people out of the 25 inmates and four corrections officers at the federal medium-security Mission Institution who have contracted COVID-19 are now in hospital.
The facility has seen the largest outbreak among an inmate population across Canada’s federal prison network.
By contrast, the provincially run Okanagan Correctional Centre continues to see only one case after more than a week, which Henry suggested is due to early identification of the case and the ability to separate groups at the Okanagan facility.
“It’s the same analogy for our long-term care homes: if you’re able to catch it early, particularly if it’s a worker versus a resident, the chances of transmission happening to others in that area goes down dramatically.”
A total of 134 patients across B.C. are currently in hospital with the disease, up six from Friday. However, the number of people in intensive care fell for another straight day, dropping by two to 63.
Henry said 905 patients have now fully recovered.
Henry said B.C. is in a “good place” when it comes to supplies of personal protective equipment, as well as in the staffing of long-term care homes after her order for staff to only work at one facility.
She said enforcing that order was a challenge, however.
“We’ve not seen staffing shortages and we’ve been working very carefully to support staff so they can continue coming into work,” she said.
“We’ve had a large number … of nurses and care aides who have stepped up and volunteered to assist in the long-term care facility outbreaks we have, and we’re incredibly grateful that people are doing their best to support our seniors during this challenging time.”
Henry said testing will be expanded soon as the number of people showing symptoms of respiratory illnesses continues to decrease with the arrival of warmer weather.
While testing has gone up “a bit,” she said vulnerable populations and health-care workers continue to be a focus, as younger care staff continue to make up a significant percentage of total confirmed cases.