British Columbia

B.C. announces 26 new coronavirus cases, new community outbreak at poultry plant

B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced 26 new coronavirus cases in the province on Saturday, bringing the total to 2,171.

One new community outbreak confirmed at Fraser Valley Specialty Poultry

B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides an update on B.C.'s latest COVID-19 numbers. (MIke McArthur/CBC)

B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced 26 new coronavirus cases in the province on Saturday, bringing the current total to 2,171.

Of the cases, there are now 832 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 992 in Fraser Health, 123 in Vancouver Island Health, 175 in Interior Health, and 49 in Northern Health.

Two more people have died of COVID-19, bringing the total number of deaths in the province to 114. There are currently 72 people in hospital, and 23 people in intensive care.

Henry said there is one new community outbreak, at Fraser Valley Specialty Poultry, where there are now three confirmed cases. There remain 52 cases associated with an outbreak at Superior Poultry, and 35 cases associated with an outbreak at United Poultry.

She also expressed concern over an outbreak at the Kearl Lake oilsands facility north of Fort McMurray. She said with workers travelling between B.C. and Alberta, the outbreak remains "very challenging" to contain, and that anyone returning to B.C. should be self isolating.

"As cases continue to be found both in Alberta and here in B.C. this is very important for us, vitally important for us in B.C., that anyone who has been at the site since March 24 needs to follow our requirements in British Columbia when they are home," she said.

Watch Dr. Bonnie Henry's message to the class of 2020:

Dr. Bonnie Henry reminded students that schools are working hard to make graduation a positive and special event during the COVID-19 pandemic. 1:00

"This includes your entire family being very diligent about physical distancing, self isolating on your return. Part of our response here in B.C. to outbreaks in our communities is treating that entire area as an outbreak site."

Henry said that though B.C. has flattened its curve and that new daily case numbers have been steady, the risk in B.C. remains "very high."

"It is far too easy to tip the scales against us," she said.

"We cannot have any missteps as we look to ease our restrictions in the coming weeks."

'Safely, slowly, methodically'

Premier John Horgan has promised to release details next week on plans to gradually lift restrictions on daily life and business. Henry said she has faced pressure from both sides of the debate on how and when the province should re-open, especially as other Canadian provinces begin to ease restrictions, noting that measures implemented in B.C. have been "less draconian."

"We will not move forward with opening up different sectors until we're ready, until we're sure that we have a plan that is workable," she said.

"It is a bit of a cautionary tale for us that we have seen these outbreaks in these poultry plants, for example. That tells us that we need to make sure that we have the right safety measures in place in each different area of our economy to make sure that we can all be comforted and understand that we are opening up safely, slowly, and methodically."

Henry also addressed students, and specifically the class of 2020, whose graduation ceremonies have been cancelled or driven online as a result of the pandemic.

"We won't be doing them in the same way this summer, but take heart we are thinking about that," she said.

"You are, and will always be unique in the graduating class. It's been over 100 years since we've had an event like this pandemic."

Henry also spoke directly to parents and students struggling with homeschooling, as days spent at home stretch into weeks.

"I know many of us are feeling the fatigue and the frustration ... we want children across the province to continue learning, but there's many ways of learning," she said.

"There is no such thing as perfect. It is an unattainable concept and none of us should be striving for it."

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

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