B.C. health officials announce 3 more COVID-19 deaths, 15 new cases
VANCOUVER -- Three more people have died from COVID-19 in British Columbia, health officials announced Thursday.
The death toll from the coronavirus in the province is now 135.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix also announced 15 new cases of the virus in B.C. at their daily briefing on the pandemic Thursday. A total of 2,392 people have tested positive for the virus in B.C. since the pandemic began.
There are currently 372 active cases of COVID-19 in British Columbia, including 58 people in hospital with the virus and 12 in intensive care.
The update comes as residents prepare for the Victoria Day long weekend. Health officials again stressed that non-essential travel should not be happening this weekend.
"This is a good weekend to stay home, to stay with the ones you love and not to travel," Dix said Wednesday.
Henry acknowledged that the May long weekend marks the unofficial start of summer for many, and said this summer will be unlike any other.
She urged residents to spend time discovering attractions near them, rather than travelling to other parts of B.C. She also recommended careful consideration of how and when to expand one's own bubble, as B.C. moves to phase two of its reopening plan next week.
"Top of mind for all of us needs to be fewer faces, smaller groups, shorter time together, and bigger spaces," Henry said. Be aware of those around you and continue to be considerate and to keep them safe too."
"This weekend, the best place to be in B.C. is right where we are," Dix added.
The focus on limiting long-weekend travel and growing social connections slowly and carefully comes amid a perceived uptick in crowds at Vancouver beaches since the province announced its reopening plan last week.
Vancouver park rangers issued nearly 1,900 warnings to people who weren't maintaining the recommended two-metre physical distance over the weekend, the park board said this week.
Asked whether she regretted how the province had rolled out its reopening plan, given the apparent increase in behaviours that could allow the virus to spread more easily, Henry said she did not.
She repeated her belief that the vast majority of British Columbians have heeded the advice of health officials, and added a reminder that the coronavirus pandemic is something the province has never had to deal with before. Everyone - both health officials and the public - is learning how to respond as it happens.
"I don't know if we can regret something that has not yet happened," Henry said. "We're not going to get everything perfect. That has been my burden to bear from the very beginning. We do the best that we can. We've never done this before, around the world. We're watching what others are doing. We're trying to learn from that."
Henry said there have been no additional outbreaks of COVID-19 detected in health-care facilities in the last 24 hours, but one outbreak - in a rehabilitation unit at Worthington Pavilion in Abbotsford - has been declared over.
There are currently 15 active outbreaks at long-term care and assisted living facilities and acute care units in the province, Henry said.
She added that there have been no additional "community outbreaks" discovered in the last day, noting that Fraser Health had allowed the reopening of the Superior Poultry processing plant in Coquitlam, which was ordered to close on April 24 after 28 employees tested positive for COVID-19.
In a similar vein, Fraser Health announced Thursday that only two active cases of the virus remain at the Mission Institution medium security federal prison. The Mission outbreak has been the most severe prison outbreak in Canada, with 120 inmates - roughly 40 per cent of the prison population - having tested positive for the virus.
The vast majority of B.C.'s COVID-19 cases have been located in the Lower Mainland, where 1,149 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in the Fraser Health region and 878 people have tested positive in Vancouver Coastal Health.
Elsewhere in the province, 181 people in the Interior Health region have tested positive for the virus, as have 126 people in Island Health and 58 people in Northern Health.
More than three-quarters of those who have tested positive for COVID-19 in British Columbia are now considered fully recovered - a total of 1,885 people.