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New isolation order in B.C. after returning oil workers contract coronavirus in Alberta

B.C. health officials announce 52 new COVID-19 cases, 5 deaths in 48-hour period
WATCH: B.C. health officials announce 52 new COVID-19 cases, 5 deaths in 48-hour period

B.C.’s top doctor has issued a new self-isolation order after seven B.C. residents who returned from an Alberta oil sands project tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry issued a new order requiring anyone who has visited the Kearl Lake project in northern Alberta since March 15 to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return to B.C.

Anyone in that situation or their family members who begins to show symptoms should call their health-care provider or 811 to arrange for testing, Henry said.

Expanded testing

B.C. has also expanded its testing strategy so that anyone with COVID-19 symptoms can get tested, Henry added.

For weeks, the province had focused its testing on health-care workers, vulnerable people and outbreak clusters.

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“We want to avoid another spike in community cases, and that is why we are changing the strategy again to open it up and ensure that we continue to find everybody who needs to be isolated and where we need to do contact tracing in the province.”

New Westminster’s Kruger Products’ mill rolling out toilet paper to meet demand during pandemic
New Westminster’s Kruger Products’ mill rolling out toilet paper to meet demand during pandemic

That said, Henry made it clear that though everyone can be tested, not everyone needs to be.

“If you do not have symptoms, this test has very limited benefit and is not necessarily valid.”

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Anyone experiencing a cough, fever or shortness of breath should call 811 or their health-care provider to arrange a referral for a test.

Lockdown summer

B.C. won’t begin to lift even the most serious of its restrictions until mid-May.

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And when it does, Henry said the summer will still look very different.

“We’re going to be doing things differently for a year,” said Henry.

“It doesn’t mean we have to give up everything and that we’re going to be in the same place that we are right now, I absolutely think we have some space … but not on those large-scale events.”

B.C.’s top doctor says we need to find “sweet spot” when comes to easing COVID-19 restrictions
B.C.’s top doctor says we need to find “sweet spot” when comes to easing COVID-19 restrictions

The size of weddings would be limited and concerts, parades and other mass gatherings would be scrapped, she said, but businesses, such as restaurants, could start re-opening in some way if it can be done while observing physical-distancing rules.

“I’m looking to industry to come up with ways this could work,” said Henry.

“There’s lots of innovative ways that people can get around that, and we’ve seen some of that with the takeout services … [but] it’s not going to be back to what we were before, unfortunately, for a time.”
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Until a vaccine is in place, she added, anyone who feels the least bit ill still needs to stay home.

Five new deaths

On Monday, B.C. announced that the COVID-19 outbreaks at some of B.C.’s long-term care facilities have claimed five more lives.

It brings the total number of coronavirus deaths in the province to 86. Fifty-two of those are linked to long-term care or assisted living homes.

Henry also confirmed 52 new cases of the virus since her last update on Saturday.

Province-wide, 1,699 people have tested positive, while 1,039 have fully recovered.

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The number of patients hospitalized because of COVID-19, which peaked at 149 on April 2, continued its downward slide over the weekend to 104. Forty-nine of those patients are in intensive care.

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READ MORE: Your questions, answered at COVID-19 town hall with Dr. Bonnie Henry and Adrian Dix

On Monday, TransLink announced that it would temporarily lay off close to 1,500 workers as the agency continues to lose millions of dollars per day due to decreased ridership.

On Sunday, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said the province would begin cracking down on price gougers and people re-selling medical equipment, with fines of up to $2,000.