British Columbia

9 new coronavirus detected in B.C., bringing total to 73

B.C. has detected 9 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the province's total to 73, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced Friday.

Dr. Bonnie Henry also advised B.C. residents against 'anxiety-provoked purchasing'

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry deliver the COVID-19 update on March 19, 2020. (MIke McArthur/CBC)

B.C. has detected nine new cases of COVID-19, bringing the province's total to 73, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced Saturday, while also urging residents not to stockpile supplies or flood testing centres.

Many of the new cases are related to an outbreak at the Lynn Valley Care centre in North Vancouver. Four residents and 12 staff of the centre are now infected, a development Henry says is "not a surprise."

"There may be more cases that arise in the coming days," she said.

With the new cases, all five of B.C.'s health authorities now have COVID-19 cases. B.C. health minister Adrian Dix also announced that testing centres will be opening in the coming days, but declined to comment on their location to prevent people from flocking to them unnecessarily.

"We're prioritizing particular investigations ...  When these centres are open, they're not for people to go to," said Dix.

The update comes after a week that saw more than two dozen new cases in B.C., three sickened employees at a North Vancouver hospital, another care home outbreak, a delayed cruise ship season, and extensive travel advisories locally and internationally. On Friday, Henry officially banned all gatherings of more than 250 people.

Not all sick people require test

Henry emphasized B.C.'s testing strategy, saying the focus remains on testing people in active investigations of cluster outbreaks, healthcare workers and people in hospital, and people in long-term care homes.

She said people who are self-isolating after returning from travel who have no symptoms or mild symptoms do not need to go in for testing, unless their conditions worsens to the point that they require medical care.

Henry said the volume of testing has gone up in a short period of time, putting pressure on some labs.

"We're coping, but you're right, we're near the edge," she said in response to a reporter's question about increasing capacity.

So far, four people in B.C. have fully recovered, while two others have recovered from their symptoms and will undergo further tests.

Henry also dissuaded people from panic buying — which has been observed in stores across Canada — saying supply chains remain strong and there is no need to stock up.

"I think it's natural when there's a lot of unknowns … one of the ways people do try and get some control over their environment is to make sure they're stocking up on things," she said, warning against "anxiety-provoked purchasing."

"Go outdoors and take advantage of the time and space that we have … do it in small groups," she said.

"We are going to get through this, this is going to be a challenging time for all of us."

Dix also reiterated that people who show any kind of symptoms of illness should avoid visiting care homes or elderly relatives. Symptoms of coronavirus include a dry cough, fever and shortness of breath.

There are now three outbreaks, two of them involving care homes. At Lynn Valley Care Centre four residents and 12 staff are infected, while at Hollyburn House one staff member and one resident are infected. At Lions Gate Hospital, three administrative staff are infected.

Dix also said that the First Nations Health Authority has been included in the province's planning, and has been a part of every meeting around COVID-19 since January.

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