British Columbia

Keep it local on long weekend, health officials say, as B.C. reports 23 new COVID-19 cases, 1 more death

B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said there have been 23 new cases of COVID-19 detected in B.C. since Saturday. In that time, one more person has died.

Outbreak at West Kelowna nursery declared over, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provided an update on COVID-19 case numbers Monday afternoon. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

The highlights:

B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Monday there have been 23 new cases of COVID-19 detected in B.C. since Saturday. 

In that time, one more person has died. Health Minister Adrian Dix said the person lived in the Fraser Health region.

As of Monday, there were 2,353 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the province. So far, 130 people have died and 1,719 people have recovered from the illness.

There are 66 COVID-19 patients in hospital, 18 of them in intensive care. 

Currently, there are 19 active outbreaks in long-term care, assisted living or acute care facilities, Henry said. A total of 291 residents of those facilities and 184 staff have tested positive for COVID-19. 

There were no new community outbreaks to report Monday and the outbreak at Bylands Nursery in West Kelowna has been declared over.

"That is excellent news," Henry said. "We know how much we depend on the temporary foreign workers who come into British Columbia to support our agriculture sector. Their health and the health of our communities is paramount."

Distancing delinquents?

Despite 1,880 warnings issued by Vancouver park rangers over the weekend, Henry said, by and large, British Columbians are getting the message about physical distancing.

Record-breaking temperatures were recorded on Mother's Day and some social media users shared photos that seemed to show park and beach users not keeping appropriate distances from one another.

"I had the pleasure of getting outside a few times myself this weekend and I did see lots of people," Henry said.

"The vast majority of them were in small groups, sitting apart... The vast majority of people are doing the right thing and taking this to heart."

Watch as Dr. Bonnie Henry explains why she believes the province's "positive" approach to physical distancing rules is working:

Dr. Bonnie Henry says the vast majority complied with physical distancing guidelines this past weekend, and bylaw officers are taking a positive approach. 1:52

Henry said the fact that Vancouver alone has issued more than 11,000 warnings to groups that failed to distance themselves shows authorities are taking it seriously but the province is not taking a punitive approach.

"That's worked for us [non-punitive approach] and it will continue to work for us," she said.

Henry said if people do ignore guidance, it will be their loved ones who likely will be placed at greater risk.

This coming long weekend, Dix said, people need to adhere to physical distancing, keep washing their hands, avoid gatherings and, importantly, avoid unnecessary travel.

"Stay apart, stay local, stay safe," Dix said. "We can't let up."

Concerns about opening border

Henry said a broad reopening of the Canada-U.S. border in coming weeks would not be in B.C.'s best interests.

She said there have been some concerns when it comes to family reunification and the cross-border transit of essential goods must continue but the province is not ready for a wider reopening.

Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix gave the cold shoulder to any idea of the Canada-U.S. border reopening in coming weeks to non-essential travellers. (MIke McArthur/CBC)

Dix agreed it would make "no sense" to start allowing non-essential visitors across the border, in either direction.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said Monday that Canada and the U.S. are working on plans to deal with increasing cross-border traffic as pandemic-related restrictions are pulled back.

Restrictions set to ease

This week, B.C. will begin easing some restrictions, but Henry continues to stress the importance of physical distancing, warning that despite her encouragement for people to get outside, people should still stick to their families and keep a safe distance from others. 

She said Monday people should not feel pressured into making changes to their day-to-day lives before they are personally ready.

"I've heard from many who've said they'll be ready to go as soon as they are able to, and many others who want to take the time and look at their own individual circumstances," Henry said. 

"And that's OK. It is important for us to not feel rushed."

She also said that British Columbia is developing plans to allow family members to return to long-term care facilities to visit relatives.

The government continues to ask residents to avoid non-essential travel over the B.C.-Alberta border. Travel into Yukon via highways 97 and 37 is limited to essential travel.

If you have a COVID-19-related story we should pursue that affects British Columbians, please email us at impact@cbc.ca. 

With files from Courtney Dickson

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