B.C. announces 45 new coronavirus cases, bringing total to 231
Health officials stress urgency of phase B.C. now in, issue plea to take self-isolation seriously
B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced 45 new coronavirus cases in B.C. on Wednesday, bringing the total number in the province to 231.
No new deaths were reported on Wednesday, in a news conference where health officials stressed the urgency of the situation and made emotional pleas to the public to take self-isolation measures seriously.
Henry opened the news conference, which has become a routine watch for many B.C. residents, by calling the times "extraordinary," following a series of major announcements from municipal, provincial and national authorities.
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As of Wednesday there is a new case at Haro Park Centre, a residential care home in Vancouver. Thirteen people have been hospitalized, seven of them in intensive care. Five people continue to recover.
There are now 144 cases in Vancouver Coastal Health, 58 cases in Fraser Health, 16 cases for Vancouver Island, nine in the Interior and four in Northern Health.
"We need everybody to be aware that the risk is not in just one place. You need to be taking these measures everywhere," said Henry.
"It doesn't serve anybody to think 'this will not affect me."
On Tuesday, B.C. declared a public health emergency over COVID-19. On Wednesday, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth expanded it to a provincial state of emergency to ensure provincial and federal resources are delivered jointly in an "all hands on deck" approach. The City of Vancouver has also declared its own local state of emergency.
A ban on all gatherings of more than 50 people remains in effect, and anyone returning to Canada from international travel has been ordered to self-isolate for 14 days. The public has been urged to social distance by avoiding large gatherings and keeping two metres from one another where possible.
Trudeau announced on Wednesday morning that Canada and the U.S. agreed to temporarily close their shared border to non-essential travel.
Listen to Adrian Dix describe the importance of social distancing:
Henry said B.C. is currently in a "critical time" to flatten the curve and cut off the spread of the virus.
"We do know that this virus is spreading in our community, and the measures that we are requiring of people and asking of people are to try and stop the spread of this virus," she said.
"What we do today is going to help us in the next 10 days, 14 days."
Health Minister Adrian Dix said around 17,000 people in B.C. have been tested so far and close to a million people had used a self-assessment tool created by the province.
Dix acknowledged the measures taken over the last few days have been "breathtaking," leaving many people struggling to wrap their heads around the ways that daily life has changed.
"We wouldn't have imagined taking them two months ago or one month ago," he said.
Dix also spoke directly to those who have been slow to self-isolate and social distance, saying "it's not too late to join the fight."
"To those who have been reluctant … I want to say that your friends and your neighbours and your family are counting on you," he said.
"There's a difference between self-isolation and isolating yourself from responsible measures ... We're learning what to do. We're learning how to adapt, and we're learning how much we mean to each other, every single person," he said.
Henry reiterated that B.C.'s supply chains remain strong, and that businesses should work to keep services going while keeping the public safe, suggesting measures like staggering work schedules, increasing cleaning and limiting the number of people entering a business at one given time.
"I think we will fundamentally change the way we do things until we have a vaccine or we have a treatment for this."
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