British Columbia

4 more seniors in B.C. long-term care homes die of COVID-19

B.C.'s COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the deaths of four more elderly residents of long-term care homes, bringing the total deaths so far to 109.

The province has now seen 109 deaths and 2,087 confirmed infections with the novel coronavirus

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry give their daily update on COVID-19. (MIke McArthur/CBC)

B.C.'s COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the deaths of four more elderly residents of long-term care homes, bringing the total number of deaths to 109.

During Wednesday's daily briefing, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the province has 34 new confirmed cases, for a total of 2,087.

Henry said there have been two additional outbreaks in long-term care, both involving a single patient. There are now 24 active outbreaks in long-term or acute care units. A total of 252 residents and 152 staff in these facilities have now tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

As of Wednesday, there were 89 COVID-19 patients in hospital, including 35 in critical care, marking yet another drop in B.C.'s hospitalization rates. A total of 1,305 people have now recovered from the disease.

Henry offered thanks to British Columbians for their commitment to limiting the spread of the virus, praising the creativity and compassion of ordinary citizens.

"The orders and the restrictions that we have in place have worked, and they've worked because we have followed them collectively," she said.

According to Health Minister Adrian Dix, B.C. currently has more than 4,000 available hospital beds, space that was cleared to make way for COVID-19 patients, in large part by cancelled scheduled elective surgeries. Dix said 16,101 procedures have been cancelled since March 16.

Henry said B.C. has a "very detailed plan" for resuming elective surgeries in the coming weeks.

Poultry plant cases include at least 1 federal food inspector

Meanwhile, the number of cases associated with outbreaks at poultry processing plants in the Lower Mainland continues to grow. Henry said there are 50 confirmed cases at Superior Poultry Processors in Coquitlam and 42 at United Poultry in Vancouver.

On Wednesday, workers at two more B.C. poultry-processing plants tested positive for COVID-19. These include the Sofina Foods Lilydale plant in Port Coquitlam and Fraser Valley Specialty Poultry in Yarrow, near Chilliwack.

Henry told reporters that one of those cases was detected in a household member of someone who works at one of the poultry plants where outbreaks have already been identified.

She said her primary concern continues to be people working when they are ill, which is how the disease appears to have spread in the poultry processing industry.

According to the B.C. government, the poultry plant cases include both workers and at least one food inspector from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

Henry added that health officials have met with industry representatives, the agriculture ministry, and the CFIA to talk about how protecting the safety of employees by encouraging sick people to stay home will also protect the employer.

Henry also updated the figures connected to the Pacific Dental Conference held in Vancouver in March that was attended by at least one person with COVID-19. She said 87 cases of the disease have been linked to that event, including one dentist who has since died.

Earlier Wednesday, Premier John Horgan extended B.C.'s state of emergency until May 12. The provision, which was originally introduced on March 18, allows for the province to enact emergency measures.

If you have a COVID-19-related story we should pursue that affects British Columbians, please email us at impact@cbc.ca

With files from Roshini Nair and Tanya Fletcher

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