Spend Easter at home, health of­fi­cials urge

Five more peo­ple die from coro­n­avirus, with cases ap­pear­ing across the prov­ince

Vancouver Sun - - CITY - NICK EAGLAND with files from The Cana­dian Press neagland@post­media.com twit­ter.com/nick­eagland

The prov­ince’s health min­is­ter and top doc­tor are again urg­ing peo­ple to stay home this long week­end and cel­e­brate Easter on­line to pre­vent the spread of the novel coro­n­avirus, af­ter five more peo­ple died in B.C. from the dis­ease.

Adrian Dix and pro­vin­cial health of­fi­cer Dr. Bonnie Henry an­nounced 40 new cases of COVID-19 on Fri­day, boost­ing B.C.’S to­tal to date to 1,410. That in­cludes 55 peo­ple who have died and 879 who have re­cov­ered, mean­ing 476 cases were ac­tive on Fri­day, up from 450 a day ear­lier.

“This hol­i­day week­end is an im­por­tant time for many Bri­tish Columbians of di­verse faiths,” Henry and Dix said in a joint state­ment.

“As we re­flect on the past few weeks and the chal­lenges we have all faced to­gether, we are re­minded of the im­por­tance of con­nect­ing and pro­tect­ing our loved ones, our elders, our health care work­ers and our com­mu­ni­ties.”

But now is not the time to travel un­less it is an ab­so­lutely ne­ces­sity, Dix and Henry stressed.

They urged peo­ple to stay home and “be cre­ative with how they con­nect and cel­e­brate with fam­ily and friends,” sug­gest­ing they use the in­ter­net and tele­phones to come to­gether vir­tu­ally.

Henry and Dix re­minded peo­ple that while all B.C. parks are closed, they can still go for walks or ride bikes with fam­ily in their own neigh­bour­hoods, while keep­ing a safe phys­i­cal dis­tance of at least two me­tres from oth­ers.

The two have pre­vi­ously told peo­ple not to travel within B.C. — even to sum­mer homes and fish­ing cab­ins — warn­ing that the hos­pi­tals of smaller com­mu­ni­ties may be ill-equipped to han­dle an out­break. On Fri­day, how­ever, res­i­dents of small towns in B.C. ex­pressed out­rage as peo­ple shared pho­tos of packed ferry line­ups and busy high­ways.

Henry and Dix said peo­ple are test­ing pos­i­tive for the dis­ease all across B.C., in­clud­ing 629 in the Van­cou­ver Coastal Health re­gion, 539 in the Fraser Health re­gion, 84 in the Is­land Health re­gion, 132 in the In­te­rior Health re­gion and 26 in the North­ern Health re­gion.

On Fri­day, 128 peo­ple were in hos­pi­tal in­clud­ing 65 in in­ten­sive care. The other 283 peo­ple who tested pos­i­tive were at home in self-iso­la­tion. As of Thurs­day, 53,505 tests had been con­ducted in the prov­ince, ac­cord­ing to the B.C. Cen­tre for Dis­ease Con­trol.

Dix and Henry said there were no new out­breaks at long-term care homes and that Van­cou­ver Coastal Health and Fraser Health teams con­tin­ued to pro­vide sup­port at 20 fa­cil­i­ties af­fected by 242 cases of COVID-19.

“It is cru­cial for all of us to stay strong in our com­mit­ment to flat­ten the curve. Con­sider the sup­port that we can give one an­other, to our loved ones and in our com­mu­ni­ties, so we can all suc­ceed in this goal,” Dix and Henry said.

“Let’s con­tinue to stand strong — united with kind­ness and care.”

Also on Fri­day, new le­gal mea­sures came into ef­fect in B.C. re­quir­ing peo­ple re­turn­ing from in­ter­na­tional travel to present self-iso­la­tion plans to of­fi­cials or be placed in manda­tory quar­an­tine.

The mea­sures are meant to re­in­force the fed­eral emer­gency or­der un­der the Quar­an­tine Act re­quir­ing peo­ple en­ter­ing Canada to self-iso­late for 14 days.

Mean­time, the B.C. Cen­tre for Dis­ease Con­trol’s lat­est daily sur­veil­lance re­port showed that among 1,370 cases be­tween Jan. 1 and April 9, the me­dian age was 54 and 55 per cent were women. The me­dian age of the peo­ple who died was 86.

The most com­monly re­ported symp­toms have been cough (86 per cent), fever (70 per cent), chills (68 per cent), headache (66 per cent), weak­ness (63 per cent) and mus­cle ache (60 per cent).

Henry and Dix will give their next COVID-19 up­date to­day at noon. The B.C. Cen­tre for Dis­ease Con­trol’s next daily re­port comes out Tues­day at 5 p.m.

JA­SON PAYNE

Health of­fi­cials say that while parks are closed, peo­ple can still go for walks or ride bikes in their own neigh­bour­hoods on the long week­end while keep­ing a safe dis­tance from one an­other.

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