4 more COVID-19 patients die in B.C., bringing total number of deaths to 43
Number of people hospitalized falls again — to 138— from 140 a day earlier
The number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized in B.C. has fallen once again to 138, but another four more deaths have been recorded in the last 24 hours, according to provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.
She announced Tuesday that the province has confirmed another 25 cases of the disease, for a total of 1,291. A total of 805 patients have recovered, while 43 have died.
Henry said that ahead of major religious occasions including Easter, Passover, Ramadan and Vaisakhi, she's "so happy" to see faith leaders moving to virtual celebrations.
"Please, now is the time to pay attention to our seniors and our elders," Henry said. "We protect them by connecting safely from a distance."
She said she's particularly concerned about the virus spreading through indoor gatherings of any size, as well as travel to smaller communities that do not have the resources to support large numbers of sick people.
When asked about whether she had any plans to close the provincial border with Alberta to prevent Albertans from visiting their holiday homes in B.C., Henry said she doesn't believe she has the authority to do that, but travel between the two provinces is a concern she has discussed with her counterpart in Alberta.
According to Health Minister Adrian Dix, B.C. has cleared 4,549 hospital beds to make way for COVID-19 patients. He said that while the numbers in this province have been encouraging in recent days, that does not mean people should ease up on physical distancing measures.
"We need to to double down now," he said. "Let's bend the curve and not the rules this weekend."
Earlier Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the federal government is teaming up with partners in the private sector to produce up to 30,000 new ventilators for COVID-19 patients.
Henry said B.C. doesn't have an urgent need for those ventilators at the moment, but that could change.
" The equipment should go to the place with the highest need. We may need them in another wave in the future," Henry said.
She also said it's too soon to predict what the future might look like, and when restrictions on daily life might be loosened or even lifted.
"We're in for a bit of a ride on this," Henry said. "There will likely be a period of time where this will wane, and we might be able to go back to some of our activities, but we have to monitor community transmission, and we might have to re-implement certain measures."
But Henry took time to joke about some of the struggles of living a physically distant life, including giving into the temptation to do her own hair, which she called "the number one thing not to do in a pandemic."
Watch: Dr. Bonnie Henry jokes about doing her own hair in isolation
Luck and preparation
So far, physical distancing measures appear to have had an effect on flattening the curve in British Columbia. Its outbreak is less severe than Quebec's and Ontario's where numbers have grown steadily.
"It's very hard to know exactly why," Henry said when asked about the difference on Monday. "Some parts of it are luck, and some parts of it are being prepared."
Still, health officials are urging the public keep up physical distancing measures over the next critical weeks.
Earlier Tuesday, the Vancouver Park Board announced measures to ban cars from Stanley Park and cyclists from the seawall in an effort to allow for more physical distancing.
If you have a COVID-19-related story we should pursue that affects British Columbians, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With files from Roshini Nair