Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry reported 23 new cases of COVID-19 in B.C. in the last 48 hours on Monday, as well as one new death, and urged the public to remain vigilant despite the province releasing plans to reopen the economy.
“COVID-19 has not gone away,” Henry said.
There are now 2,353 confirmed cases of the disease in the province. Of those, 1,719 cases have fully recovered. The COVID-19 death toll stands at 130.
Sixty-six COVID-19 patients are in hospital — a decrease of three patients from Saturday — while 18 patients remain in intensive care.
An outbreak involving temporary foreign workers at West Kelowna’s Bylands Nurseries is now over.
Henry asked for patience as the province moves toward easing physical-distance requirements after the May long weekend, saying a thoughtful and measured approach will keep the public safe.
“A steady stream will be far more successful than a rushing river,” she said.
Henry responded Saturday to widespread reports of people congregating in groups at parks and beaches amid the warm weather, saying the province may have announced plans to begin reopening after the May long weekend, that date is not yet here.
“We are not yet ready to move into Phase Two … which means we must all continue to do what we have been doing,” she said.
Also on Monday, the Vancouver Park Board said it had issued nearly 1,900 warnings to people in parks and beaches last weekend regarding a lack of physical distancing. As a result, the reopening of parking lots at such locales will be delayed.
Health Minister Adrian Dix said it’s tempting to think the province has made enough gains in the fight against COVID-19, but the threat posed by the novel coronavirus is far from over.
Travel restrictions across the Canada-U.S. border are set to expire on May 21, but Dix said he has told Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that the province believes the border should not reopen.
Henry agreed, but allowed that there could be some leeway with regards to family reunification.
“I know it has been very hard on some families who have members on either side of the border, but broad reopening of borders is not in our best interest in the coming weeks,” she said.
Henry said the province is closely monitoring the progress of countries such as Germany, New Zealand and Norway that have flattened the curve and are now working to prevent a surge in new cases.
She noted that Germany has seen a slight increase for reasons that aren’t entirely clear.
South Korea has recently seen a surge in cases, some of which are linked to nightclubs.
B.C. has said bars and nightclubs will be among the last businesses to reopen.
— With files from Simon Little