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B.C. confirms 74 new COVID-19 cases, provincial total now at 424


There are 74 new cases of COVID-19 and one new death – a resident of the Lynn Valley Care Centre – provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced Saturday.

Henry also ordered all personal service establishments, including salons, spas, massage parlours and tattoo parlours, to close, effective Saturday. 

The provincial total of coronavirus cases is now 424. 

Five more people have been admitted to hospital, for a total of 27. Twelve are in ICU, said Henry.

Of the provincial total, 230 are in the Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) region, 126 in Fraser health, 37 in the Island Health region, 27 in Interior Health and four in Northern Health.

Ten people have now died from COVID-19 in B.C., nine of whom are linked to the Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver. That care centre is one of three in the VCH region to have staff or residents test positive for the coronavirus.

On Saturday, VCH’s health officer issued a health order to protect seniors living in long-term care homes.

Six people have recovered.

'Our chance to alter course' of COVID-19

Henry again emphasized the importance of following social distancing practices to flatten the curve of COVID-19, as the latest numbers show that there is risk around the province, and it's important for British Columbians "to pay attention to what's happening in our community."

"The actions we are taking today make a difference in how we can transfer this disease to others," she said. "This is our chance to alter the course of this epidemic, and we can do it, we've seen that it is effective in other countries. It's in our hands right now."

Henry also said that the primary concern to healthcare workers is community spread, rather than in healthcare settings. 

"They're getting infected in the community, and then bringing it into work and in some cases are transmitting it between each other and between their families," said Henry, again stressing why social distancing is so important. 

Health Minister Adrian Dix acknowledged there is anxiety about the measures implemented in B.C. to combat the spread of COVID-19, and reminded British Columbians that they are enforceable.

"(These measures) require 100-per-cent compliance," said Dix. "We need everyone to comply. Most of these measures are orders. They're also enforceable orders, the orders of the provincial health officer.

"It's everyone's obligation to comply."

For example, said Dix, it's an order that anyone who has travelled internationally must stay home for 14 days, and the closure of bars and restaurants except for take-out or delivery is an order, as are the closure of personal service establishments and the ban on gatherings over 50 people.

Under the Provincial Health Act, and during a provincial health emergency, Henry can call on peace officers to enforce her orders. 

Working through testing backlog

The spike in cases this week is partly due to the province working to process a backlog of tests, said Henry. 

"(That spike) is not a reflection of when people got sick, it's a reflection of when the test got reported," she said. "Even if the test is not back, people are being isolated, people are being put into self-isolation, or if they need treatment, are being hospitalized."

Henry said backlog processing should be completed by either this weekend or early next week, adding the province had "some challenges" when expanding testing to different laboratories 

So far, over over 17,000 tests have been completed in B.C., and Henry said Saturday that several thousand people are being tested per day.

Currently, B.C. is focusing testing on active outbreaks, people in hospital, long term care homes and health care workers. People who have travelled abroad do not need to be tested, even if they develop symptoms, but need to self-isolate at home for 14 days. 

"The testing strategy over the last two weeks has been to focus on where we make the most difference with our testing," said Henry. 

"If and when we flatten this curve, we'll be changing our testing strategy again, as we try and decrease the community cases with all of those (social distancing) measures...then we need to start widely testing again to make sure we're not getting more introductions."


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