British Columbia

B.C. records lowest number of new COVID-19 cases in a week, but advised to 'hold our line'

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said B.C. is now in that crucial, two-week period where officials could get a greater understanding of how orders and physical distancing measures are working.

29 new cases, 3 new deaths recorded in the province on Saturday

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides an update on COVID-19 cases in the province on March 25, 2020. (Michael McArthur/CBC)

B.C.'s provincial health officer announced 29 new coronavirus cases in the province on Saturday, bringing the total to 1,203.

That represents the lowest number of new cases announced this week, but Dr. Bonnie Henry advised the risk remains "very high for us in B.C."

"We are in the thick of it and we must hold our line," she said, adding the province could still take a turn for the worse later in the week.

"I don't think I'm ready to say anything is a win yet. But every day we have been bending that curve is a good thing."

Three more people have died from the disease, bringing the total number of deaths to 38. Twenty-three outbreaks have been recorded in long-term care homes, up one from Friday.

There are currently 149 people hospitalized, with 68 people in intensive care. A total of 704 people in the province have recovered.

Henry said B.C. is now in that crucial, two-week period where officials could get a greater understanding of how orders and physical distancing measures are working.

"This is our time to remain unwavering in our commitment. To keep our firewall strong," she said.

On Saturday, Henry also announced the creation of the COVID-19 strategic advisory committee, which has been in development since January and will facilitate research related to COVID-19 in B.C. The province has also contributed $2 million in funding to the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research located in Vancouver.

The committee will include Dr. Perry Kendall, B.C.'s former provincial health officer who retired in 2018.

Henry said B.C. is part of at least 25 initiatives around the world working toward a vaccine for COVID-19.

Asymptomatic spread and hopes for summer

Henry responded to growing concerns that people who are asymptomtic may be the primary spreaders of the virus — saying that so far, the literature and understanding of how COVID-19 spreads remains largely unchanged.

"I've always said that that's not the major driver of this ... the vast majority of transmission happens we know when people are sick," she said.

Henry also commented on hopes that, like other viruses, COVID-19 could fade or taper off during the summer as a result of increased UV light and warmer temperatures. 

"What we're hoping is that, yes, this wave will subside with the measures that we're taking globally now," she said.

"We need to watch that carefully, we don't know for sure that that's how this virus will behave."

Henry said the province is coordinating with the federal government and Canada Border Services Agency on repatriation flights bringing Canadians back from abroad, with some set to arrive in the coming days, including from India.

She emphasized the importance for international travellers to follow a federal order to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return. 

"We had some concerns that the strength of the response at all the airports and land border crossings were not strong enough yet, so we want to look at how we can support the federal agencies in making sure that everyone is aware of the requirements coming back."

Of the cases, there are now:

  • 554 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region.

  • 424 in Fraser Health.

  • 76 in Vancouver Island Health.

  • 128 in Interior Health.

  • 21 in Northern Health.

About the Author

Michelle Ghoussoub

@MichelleGhsoub

Michelle Ghoussoub is a journalist with CBC News in Vancouver. She has previously reported in Lebanon and Chile. Reach her at michelle.ghoussoub@cbc.ca or on Twitter @MichelleGhsoub.

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