British Columbia

6 more COVID-19 patients die in B.C., for a total of 31, case confirmed at Okanagan jail

Six more COVID-19 patients have died in B.C., as the total number of confirmed cases has risen to 1,121, according to provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says 55 new cases confirmed, for a total of 1,121

Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry say 1,121 people have now tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Six more COVID-19 patients have died in B.C., as the total number of confirmed cases has risen to 1,121, according to provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

Fifty-five new patients have been identified across the province, Henry said Thursday, including an inmate at Okanagan Correctional Centre.

A total of 31 people have now died of the disease in this province. A total of 149 people are currently in hospital, including 68 in intensive care.

Well over half of the province's COVID-19 patients — 641 people in total — have recovered from the illness.

Henry stressed that the novel coronavirus continues to be a huge challenge for B.C., and pointed out that more than one million cases have now been identified around the world.

"The number of cases in B.C. is growing, the number of cases hospitalized is growing," she said.

"But we are seeing the growth in a manageable way here in B.C. — probably because of all the measures we are taking."

Henry acknowledged that the number of COVID-19 patients in hospital has remained relatively low, but stressed that this is a sign that British Columbians should continue to stay at home whenever possible and keep a two-metre distance from anyone they encounter outside the home.

" We don't want to jinx ourselves by saying this, but this is because we put in stringent restrictions quite early. This is the flattening of our curve, and we're hoping it will continue, but we can't take our foot off the pedal quite yet," she said.

She also confirmed that the daily number of COVID-19 tests being performed in B.C. has fallen in recent days, but said the pandemic response team is now working on how to implement broader testing measures.

Response to outbreak in jail

Henry said B.C. has had a plan in place from the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis to prevent the disease from spreading in correctional centres. All new inmates are placed in isolation for 14 days and visitors have been restricted.

But she declined to comment on calls for non-violent offenders to be released, saying that matter is in the hands of the public safety minister.

Henry also urged city dwellers to stay at home, rather than seeking out their cabins and vacation homes in smaller communities, where the health-care systems could be easily overwhelmed.

And she called on faith leaders to start considering how to celebrate Easter, Passover and Ramadan without coming together in person.

Health Minister Adrian Dix echoed Henry's advice to resist the urge to hunker down in vacation homes, saying "this is not the time to travel." He also acknowledged that more can be done at airports and land borders to screen returning travellers and to remind them of their legal responsibility to self-isolate for 14 days.

Dix also took a moment to acknowledge the human toll of the pandemic, offering his condolences to the families of patients who have died.

"We sometimes stand up here and talk about statistics … [but] every single person counts," Dix said.

Earlier Thursday, the provincial government announced it would increase the monthly amount that people on income and disability assistance receive by $300, to help them during the COVID-19 crisis. The supplement will also go to low-income seniors.

Across Canada, the number of reported cases of COVID-19 passed 11,000 and the number of cases globally crossed a milestone at one million, according to a database maintained by Johns Hopkins University.

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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