Spend Easter at home, health officials urge
Five more people die from coronavirus, with cases appearing across the province
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.
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.