B.C. announces 77 new coronavirus cases, bringing total to 348, as restaurants close province-wide
All restaurants in B.C. now being ordered to move to take-out and delivery models only
B.C. is ordering all restaurants to stop providing dine-in services, as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced 77 new cases of coronavirus Friday, bringing the total in the province up to 348.
Of that number, 200 are in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 95 are in Fraser Health, 30 in Island Health, 19 in Interior Health and four in the Northern Health region.
Nine people have died of COVID-19, including eight connected to the outbreak at Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver. Twenty-two people are now in hospital, with 10 in intensive care. Six people have fully recovered.
"We're now at the point where it's irrelevant what community you're in ... We need to take measures across the province," Henry said, while emphasizing the importance of taking extreme care before entering a long-term care home.
Friday's announcement also confirmed a new health-care worker associated with the Dufferin Care Centre, a long-term seniors' facility in Coquitlam, has been diagnosed with the virus. That case is now being managed as an outbreak.
The centre is the fourth long-term care facility in the region to confirm a case among a staff member or resident. The Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver, Hollyburn House in West Vancouver and Haro Park Centre in Vancouver are all long-term care homes with confirmed cases among residents or staff.
Growing concern surrounding supplies
Henry said about two dozen health-care workers in B.C. have now been diagnosed with coronavirus, but none have severe illness.
She also acknowledged what she called a growing angst that the health-care system won't have enough supplies to protect health-care workers, saying everything is being done to secure the resources that are needed.
Health Minister Adrian Dix said 17,912 tests have now been done in B.C. Critical care beds in the province are now at 68.1 per cent capacity, as the health-care system works to increase the availability of supplies.
In preparation for a potential spike of cases the province cancelled elective surgeries starting Monday. Dix said acute care hospitals are now operating with 2,398 beds under occupancy, and 246 fewer cases in critical care as a result of efforts to prepare.
Listen to Adrian Dix's message to health-care workers:
"This preparedness is not what's happened in other jurisdictions. We've learned from what's happened in other jurisdictions," he said.
"This has required extraordinary efforts by everyone in the acute care sector."
Dix didn't mince words describing the measures that would be taken to stop people hoarding supplies or taking them directly from hospitals.
"We'll track down and punish anybody caught misappropriating — the better word is stealing — any supplies you need."
Dix also spoke directly to health-care workers, saying they are "working miracles."
"We are grateful. We are enormously grateful for all your efforts. We are making headway together in the face of this threat, but we're not there yet."
No full shutdown yet
Earlier on Friday the City of Vancouver announced that all restaurants must stop any dine-in services by the end of Friday or face prosecution, as part of a host of new policies unveiled a day after the city declared a state of emergency.
The expansion of that ban to the rest of the province represents an additional step in a series of escalating measures taken to increase social distancing across the province. But asked whether B.C. is heading toward a full shelter-in-place order that has been issued in Italy and New York City, Henry said the province is not yet at that critical level. So far, gatherings of more than 50 have been banned and people are being asked to stay two metres apart, even when outdoors.
But Henry said the message is not that meetings of up to 50 people are still OK.
"The order is that over 50 is forbidden," she said.
"You need to maintain distances. you need to maintain hygiene. This doesn't mean that it's OK to be in groups of 50 on the beach because it means that you're not maintaining the things we need to contain this virus."
Henry also spoke directly to people who are not observing social distancing, saying that while young people are not the hardest hit by coronavirus, there have been cases of people in their 20s and 30s developing pneumonia and becoming seriously ill. She urged people to use social media to call out those who are not abiding by the recommendations.
"The people who we are going to bring it home to are the people who are closest to us."
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