B.C. has recorded 11 COVID-19 deaths since Saturday, says B.C.’s provincial health officer.
A visibly emotional Dr. Bonnie Henry said Monday the majority of those new deaths were linked to outbreaks in seniors’ care homes.
The virus has now killed 69 British Columbians — more than half of them in seniors’ facilities.
British Columbia confirmed 45 new cases Monday, bringing the provincial total to 1,490 lab-confirmed cases of the virus — about two thirds of whom have fully recovered.
More than 250 of B.C.’s COVID-19 cases are linked to outbreaks in 20 Metro Vancouver seniors’ homes.
Another 40 of the cases are in the medium-security Mission Institution. Five corrections officers and 35 inmates — eight of whom are in hospital — have contracted COVID-19, making it the worst prison outbreak in Canada.
The pandemic’s effect on the province’s hospitals remained largely flat on Monday.
There are 137 people in hospital, up three from Saturday. Fifty-eight of those patients are in intensive care, down five from Saturday.
Long weekend lockdown
Social media was awash with anger over the long weekend, as users shared images appearing to show busy ferries and highways.
Health officials and small communities had pleaded with the public all last week to avoid non-essential travel and not visit their cabin or stay at a bed-and-breakfast.
However, Health Minister Adrian Dix said ferry terminals may have looked crowded, but the numbers show traffic was far below seasonal averages.
BC Ferries’ major routes saw 173,000 passengers on last year’s Easter weekend, Dix said, while this year, the service saw fewer than 15,000.
People should not rush to judgment, Henry added, and should remember there are many essential reasons to travel, such as inter-community commutes and students heading home after the end of the semester.
She also cautioned people from jumping to criticizes others who spend time outdoors.
“I have seen many, many examples of people who are having a conversation with their neighbour from a safe distance,” she said. “People are out with their family, with their housemates, having picnics, sitting in the sun, going for a walk — those are fine.”
More than 1,700 people have returned to B.C. since the province began requiring international travellers to fill out a self-isolation plan, Dr. Henry said.
Just 13 of those people have required accommodation because they did not have a plan in place, she said, while the province has conducted 207 follow-ups.
Dix said he was hopeful the federal government and other provinces would adopt B.C.’s approach for returning travellers, noting that many people who are destined for B.C. may not enter Canada through the Vancouver International Airport.
Under federal quarantine law, travellers returning to Canada are required to self-isolate for 14 days or potentially face fines or jail time.
Getting back to normal
B.C. is closely watching jurisdictions that are beginning to ease some lockdown measures, as officials begin to map out the province’s own transition.
When and how B.C. eases its own restrictions will depend heavily on what happens in the U.S. and the rest of Canada, Henry said, as well the results of community testing here.
Officials are debating which areas of the economy and health-care system could be revived first, and how to do so safely.
But she warned “the basics” of pandemic life — hand-washing, physical distancing and working from home wherever possible — aren’t going anywhere soon.
“Those are things that are not going to change for a while.”View link »