British Columbia

B.C.'s COVID-19 deaths rise to 35, but number of patients hospitalized falls

B.C. has recorded four more deaths as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the number of patients in hospital has fallen to 146, with 64 people in intensive care.

Total of 1,174 cases confirmed in B.C., including 673 who have recovered

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix announced Friday that the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in B.C. has fallen slightly. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

B.C. has recorded four more deaths as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the number of patients in hospital has fallen to 146, with 64 people in intensive care.

That's three fewer patients in hospital than a day earlier and four fewer in the ICU.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced Friday that the province has confirmed another 53 cases of COVID-19, for a total so far of 1,174, including 176 people connected to outbreaks at 22 care homes. To date, 673 people have recovered from their illness.

She said the next two weeks will reveal whether the measures B.C. has taken will be enough to prevent the province's hospitals from being overwhelmed by this crisis.

"We are not seeing major increases in the number of cases and the number of hospitalizations. We have the capacity to deal with it right now," she said.

According to Health Minister Adrian Dix, B.C. now has 4,399 acute care beds available for COVID-19 patients in hospitals. That's largely a result of the cancellation of 11,276 non-urgent elective surgeries between March 17 and April 2.

Henry took time during her daily briefing to address young people in B.C., who are facing an uncertain future.

"This is a transitional period in your life. What is happening right now is extraordinary. Don't be afraid to talk to trusted adults about your anxieties, concerns," she said.

She once again called on returning travellers to self-isolate for 14 days, as required by law, and said friends, families and neighbours should do their part to make sure those in quarantine have everything they need.

"We are holding the line for our families and for our communities," Henry said.

U.S. actions on masks are 'wrong'

Meanwhile, Dix said he was "disappointed" by news out of the U.S., that President Donald Trump has ordered 3M to stop exporting N95 masks to Canada.

But Dix said it would not be helpful to withhold pulp from B.C. mills that 3M uses to make those masks.

"This action is wrong. It's wrong for them, it's wrong for us," he said. "We shouldn't respond with retaliation. We should respond with calls to work together."

During Friday's briefing, Henry was asked whether B.C. should be aggressively ticketing people who aren't maintaining the recommended two-metre distance from others while visiting city parks and other outdoor spaces.

Henry said her bigger concern is people meeting indoors for house parties and family get-togethers.

"When we're outside in a park, the risk of transmission is much lower. I don't want to spend a lot of time policing that," she said.

She also said that, unlike Ontario, B.C. isn't doing projections of how many people might eventually die from COVID-19, an exercise she described as not particularly useful.

Instead, B.C. is focused on modelling different scenarios for disease outbreak, and determining whether the province is equipped to respond.

"What we need to know is, what resources do we have to make sure everybody has the best chance they can have of surviving this disease, and also ensuring that we have the health services and health care that's available for everybody else who needs it at the same time," Henry said.

Also on Friday, BC Ferries laid off more than 1,400 employees and cancelled a major route between Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island citing an 80 per cent drop in traffic due to COVID-19.

The City of Vancouver announced it will be providing regular cleaning and meal delivery to residents at 21 single-room occupancy hotels on the Downtown Eastside.

The number of reported COVID-19 cases across the country crossed 12,300, and is over one million worldwide.

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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