3 deaths from COVID-19 in B.C. since Tuesday, 24 new cases
Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, and Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, announce new safety measures for visits at long-term care and assisted living facilities: June 30, 2020 (Province of BC / Flickr)
VICTORIA -- Health officials in British Columbia have announced three more deaths from COVID-19 in the province since Tuesday, bringing the provincial death toll from the coronavirus pandemic to 177.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix also announced 24 new test-positive cases of the virus in B.C. since Tuesday. Fifteen of those cases were confirmed on Tuesday and nine on Wednesday, the officials said.
Thursday's update included two days' worth of new positive tests for the virus because officials did not provide an update on Canada Day.
There are currently 160 active cases of COVID-19 in British Columbia. Of those, 17 people who have the virus are in hospital, with two of them in critical care.
Since the pandemic began, a total of 2,940 people have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Henry and Dix said Thursday that no additional outbreaks of the virus had occurred over the last 48 hours. There are currently five ongoing outbreaks in health-care facilities, but the last remaining "community outbreak" - at New World Technologies in Abbotsford - has been declared over.
A total of 2,603 people who previously tested positive for the virus in B.C. are now considered fully recovered.
Henry dedicated a significant portion of her remarks Thursday to what she called "travel manners": the rules British Columbians and people visiting the province are expected to follow to prevent transmission of COVID-19 while travelling in B.C.
"We all have to do our part to protect our communities here," the provincial health officer said. "Any traveller from outside British Columbia needs to understand that we have established very clear rules for safe social interactions here in British Columbia and we expect everybody who comes here to adhere to those rules as well."
Those rules include keeping your personal "bubble" of close contacts small, maintaining safe physical distances from those outside your bubble at all times, wearing a face mask if it's impossible to keep those distances, and self-isolating immediately if you're feeling even slightly unwell.
Henry said anyone in B.C. - including visitors - who is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 can call 811 and arrange to be tested anywhere in the province.
Additionally, anyone arriving in B.C. from abroad is still required to self-isolate for 14 days, and to have a self-isolation plan approved by the province upon their arrival, Henry said.
The focus on travel comes on the same day B.C. Premier John Horgan expressed concern about reports of Americans claiming they are travelling to Alaska as a way of circumventing isolation requirements, then vacationing in British Columbia instead of driving directly to Alaska.
Henry said she's also concerned about this phenomenon, but she urged B.C. residents not to jump to conclusions about people based on the licence plates on their vehicles.
"The majority of people with U.S. licence plates who are in B.C. are Canadians who have returned home over the period of the last few months," she said.
"We have seen individual reports of people who are using that Alaska loophole, if you will, but I understand, as well, that they are very small in number and that they are subject to the federal quarantine order and there is very strict direction on what they should be doing."
Americans who are not following that "strict direction" could face enforcement from the RCMP or local police departments, Henry said, adding that British Columbians looking to explain the expectations the province has for travellers should do so in a friendly, non-confrontational way.
"Have some compassion, be calm about it, recognizing that we may not understand everybody's situation," Henry said. "To those people … who are coming through our province, recognize that we have a vested interest in making sure that you follow our travel manners as well."
The vast majority of B.C.'s COVID-19 infections have been in the Lower Mainland, with 989 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region and 1,553 in the Fraser Health region.
Elsewhere in the province, there have been 201 cases confirmed in Interior Health, 132 in Island Health and 65 in Northern Health.
Henry was asked Thursday about the new case in the Island Health region, where only one other new infection has been reported in the last seven weeks.
The provincial health officer said the new case on Vancouver Island was the result of travel, rather than community transmission. She did not say where the person who tested positive had travelled, but did say the individual had had only a small number of close contacts and had not caused any public exposures to the virus.