B.C. health officials announce 3 more COVID-19 deaths, 12 new cases
VICTORIA -- British Columbia health officials announced three more deaths related to COVID-19 Thursday, bringing the province’s death toll to 152 since the pandemic began.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry also announced 12 new cases of the novel coronavirus, bringing the province’s total to 2,479 cases.
According to Henry, 2,020 people have fully recovered from the virus, leaving 307 active cases in B.C.
Of those cases, 43 people were in hospital for treatment of COVID-19, including eight people who required critical care.
Meanwhile, 17 outbreaks continue at long-term care homes and acute care units across B.C.
In total, 14 long-term and assisted living facilities are managing outbreaks, while three acute care units are also contending with COVID-19 cases.
Henry also announced one new community outbreak at the Matsqui correctional facility in Abbotsford.
Health officials say that there is a single case of COVID-19 at the prison, and that the individual had “very few risky contacts” who could contract the virus.
With B.C. recently restarting elective surgeries across the province, Health Minister Adrian Dix reported updated numbers on the number of surgeries that have taken place since March.
Between March 16 and May 17, more than 23,000 surgeries were conducted in B.C. Approximately 12,000 of those surgeries were scheduled, while roughly 11,000 were urgent or emergency operations.
Dix described the number of operations as an “extraordinary achievement by our health-care workers.”
Dix added that between May 7 and May 17, health officials contacted 12,016 people to discuss or reschedule their postponed surgeries.
During that time period, 2,586 surgeries were scheduled.
As B.C. continues to roll out the second phase of its restart plan, Dr. Henry urged British Columbians to continue following provincial health guidelines, like physical distancing and regular hand washing.
“Stay home and away from others if you are feeling at all unwell,” she said.
Henry also commented on the federal government’s new recommendation of wearing non-medical masks when out in public.
B.C.’s provincial health officer says that cloth or non-medical masks can help provide an extra layer of protection in some situations, such as aboard public transit, and can help curb the spread of the virus.
Other situations, such as haircuts or massage appointments, may warrant the wearing of a mask, said Henry.
“'[When] we need to be placed close to someone, that’s when both of us wearing masks is important,” she said.
“So yes, I think that is something we have to get used to. But, I don’t think we have to think about it when we are walking around by ourselves outside.”
Henry once again warned of a possible second wave of COVID-19 in the fall. However, the province’s top doctor said it would be impossible to predict the severity of the second wave until it arrives.
“Chances are that just the climactic conditions will naturally allow it to increase in prevalence during the fall,” she said.
“Sometimes we see a bigger wave during the second wave, sometimes it's smaller, so we have to wait and see.”
Henry warned that normal respiratory illnesses, like influenza, would return in the fall. Health officials say they will continue to monitor for COVID-19 cases over the summer to help prepare for a possible second wave.
Health officials say that it will be important to identify COVID-19 from other respiratory illnesses during the regular flu season.
The majority of current COVID-19 cases are located in B.C.’s Lower Mainland. As of Thursday, there were 887 confirmed cases in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, and 1,223 in the Fraser Health region.
Elsewhere in the province, 126 cases have been recorded in the Island Health region, 183 have been reported in the Interior Health region and 60 have been confirmed in the Northern Health region.