B.C. announces 77 new COVID-19 cases, total of 30 in Vancouver Island region
VICTORIA -- Health officials in British Columbia announced 77 new cases of the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19 Friday, bringing the provincial total to 348 and raising Canada's nationwide total past the 1,000 mark.
Of B.C.'s cases, 22 are currently in hospital, said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. Some 10 of those cases are in intensive care units, she said.
There are now 30 cases in the Vancouver Island region.
Additionally, some two dozen health care workers in B.C. have tested positive for COVID-19, Henry said.
One of those health-care workers is at the Dufferin Care Centre in Coquitlam. Health officials announced the outbreak at that care home, the fourth one in Metro Vancouver to be hit by COVID-19, earlier in the day on Friday.
Henry dedicated a significant portion of her remarks Friday to the province's health-care workers, sometimes speaking to them directly.
"I know how challenging it is," she said. "It's been a tremendous challenge for our health-care sector."
Henry said most of the health-care workers who have tested positive for the virus have had mild infections that have been managed at home. At the same time, lots of workers continue to provide care safely, without contracting the virus, she said.
"We know that hundreds of people have been safely cared for by our health-care worker teams here in Vancouver, here in B.C., here in Canada over the last few months," Henry said. "We know that they're safely cared for because of the dedication and the intense practice that we have in our health-care worker system."
Over the past week, B.C.'s health officials have imposed dramatic new measures in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus, including banning gatherings of more than 50 people and closing all public schools, bars and clubs.
On Friday, Henry added to that list a requirement that all restaurants in the province cease operating with table service, transitioning to a takeout and delivery model only.
Previously, health officials had recommended limiting restaurant capacity and spacing out customers. B.C.'s top doctor said those measures had not been implemented sufficiently, which prompted her to issue her order.
"It is becoming obvious, as it has to many of the municipalities around here, that this is a very challenging thing to do," Henry said. "So, from today, my order is that restaurants must move to a take-out and delivery model only as a way to best protect us and to ensure that we can maintain those distances."
That doesn't mean businesses should close, however.
Henry said health-care workers and providers of other essential services need access to food and other resources to be able to do their jobs. Businesses that do stay open must ensure they can keep sufficient physical distance between and among workers and patrons.
"For many businesses, they can and should stay open to support us, but they need to have the important social distancing measures in place," she said.
On top of that, Henry renewed her urgent calls for social distancing.
"This is not optional," she said Thursday. "I want to be very clear that everybody needs to take these actions now. This is what's going to protect us for the next few weeks – it's going to protect ourselves, it’s going to protect our families."
Asked whether the messaging around people going outside has been contradictory, with officials both encouraging people to stay home and suggesting that outdoor recreation is still acceptable, Henry reiterated the need for physical distance.
Congregating in groups on beaches in the City of Vancouver is not a good idea, she said. Likewise, playing basketball or other team sports that lead to close physical contact is not a good idea.
But leaving the house to ride a bicycle or go for a walk alone is acceptable, Henry said, noting that the key is to stay a safe distance away from others.
Of B.C.'s 348 cases of COVID-19, 200 are located in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, which extends from Richmond to Whistler. Ninety-five others are located in the Fraser Health region, which stretches from Burnaby to Hope.
There are 30 cases in the Island Health region, which includes Vancouver Island, 19 in the Interior Health region, which includes Kelowna and Kamloops, and 4 in Northern Health, which covers the province's north.
There have been eight deaths from the virus in B.C., all of them associated in some way with the Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver, which was the first seniors' care home to have an identified outbreak.
In total, 36 residents and 18 health-care workers at Lynn Valley Care Centre have tested positive for the coronavirus.
A total of six people in B.C. have recovered from COVID-19, Henry said Friday.
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Andrew Weichel, Alyse Kotyk and Carly Yoshida-Butryn