British Columbia

What you need to know about COVID-19 in B.C. on March 22, 2020

The last week has brought a complete upheaval to daily life in B.C., as everything from recreation centres to libraries to nightclubs have shut down in an attempt to halt the spread of COVID-19.

Total of 424 infections in B.C. as health officials ask people to stay home or keep away from others

People walk along the Fraserview Foreshore Trail in the River District in Vancouver, British Columbia on March 19, 2020. As of Saturday, the province had 424 confirmed cases of COVID-19. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

THE LATEST:

  • B.C. has confirmed a total of 424 cases of COVID-19, including 76 new cases on Saturday.
  • Ten people have died, including nine connected to the outbreak at the Lynn Valley Care Centre.
  • B.C. has ordered all restaurants and bars to shut down dine-in operations, but they can now sell sealed liquor with take-out meals.
  • The Vancouver Park Board is closing all public outdoor recreation facilities within parks and beaches.
  • Port Coquitlam has closed all sports courts, sports fields and skate parks effective immediately.
  • The City of New Westminster also closed all city playgrounds, basketball and volleyball courts, and skate and all-wheel parks. 
  • Camping, washrooms closed at provincial parks and road access closed to Mount Seymour and Cypress provincial parks.
  • The Vancouver Park Board and Metro Vancouver are asking people to enjoy the outdoors responsibly by keeping a two-metre distance from others and not congregate in groups.
  • North Vancouver has closed Quarry Rock and Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge indefinitely.
  • Island Health is only allowing essential visits to its facilities.
  • TransLink is reducing SkyTrain, bus and SeaBus service. 

​​​​​​What you need to know today

British Columbia health officials are continuing to remind people about the importance of social distancing to stop the spread of COVID-19, even on sunny days in the province's parks and on its beaches.

On Sunday the Vancouver Park Board closed all public outdoor recreation facilities within parks and beaches, including volleyball, skate parks, field sports, and tennis courts.

Port Coquitlam closed all sports courts, sports fields, and skate parks effective immediately. All public parks and trails in Port Coquitlam remain open. 

The City of New Westminster also closed all city playgrounds, basketball and volleyball courts, and skate and all-wheel parks. 

Health Minister Adrian Dix said efforts to stop the novel coronavirus are "the greatest fight of our time."

Dix reminded British Columbians that self-isolation measures are orders, and are not optional.  

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the province can enforce the measures if required, including by issuing fines.

On Saturday, Henry ordered personal service establishments like salons, spas, massage and tattoo parlours to close. 

Earlier this week, Henry ordered restaurants and bars in B.C. to stop all dine-in services and move to takeout and delivery only, but on Saturday evening the B.C. Restaurant and Food Services Association said restaurants with a liquor licence would be able to sell sealed liquor with take-out meals. 

The next update from B.C. health officials is scheduled for Monday.

For many, the pandemic's arrival during spring's first flush has provided a strong contrast

424 cases in B.C.

The province confirmed another 76 cases of COVID-19 on Friday, bringing B.C.'s total to 424.

Ten people have now died, including nine connected to the outbreak at Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver, where 37 residents and 19 workers have tested positive for the coronavirus.

There are now five long-term care facilities in the region with cases of the illness diagnosed in residents or staff.

The province says people can go out and enjoy the outdoors as long as they practice social distancing to stop the spread of the virus. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

A staff member at the Delta View Care Centre in Surrey has been diagnosed with COVID-19. This is the second long-term care facility in the Fraser Health region that has had a staff member test positive for the disease. 

The facility says there have been no other cases and additional measures are in place to check staff and residents for symptoms. Long-term care staff currently working there are being asked to not work at any other facility. 

Of B.C.'s confirmed cases, 27 people are now in hospital, with 12 in intensive care, and seven people have fully recovered.

Island Heath announced it will only allow essential visits for patients who are critically ill, receiving end-of-life care, and for those who are frail and need an escort for their safety.

Visitors who meet the criteria must not have a cough, runny nose, fever, sore throat or shortness of breath, and can't have travelled outside of Canada in the last 14 days, said the health authority.

Help for renters 'on the way'

On Saturday morning B.C. Housing Minister Selina Robinson said "help is on the way" for renters during the COVID-19 crisis, and more details will be provided early in the week. 

A moratorium on evictions due to non-payment of rent in housing that is managed by B.C. Housing has been introduced. She said work is also being done with social and supportive housing providers to make sure the same moratorium is in place for any homes receiving funding from B.C. Housing.

A line-up of customers stand outside of a Cannabis retail store at a distance in Vancouver, British Columbia on Friday, March 20, 2020. The province has warned shops that they too must ensure their customers abide by social distancing rules. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Robinson said they are looking at the possibility of broader measures to prevent evictions, but did not provide specifics. 

Shane Simpson, minister of social development and poverty reduction, said preparations are being made to help the most vulnerable people in the province, including those living on the street or in shelters.

Park and outdoor closures

On Friday B.C. Parks closed off access roads to Mount Seymour and Cypress provincial parks, and restricted access to some lower-level trails in those areas. 

Day hiking is still available in most other provincial parks, Environment Minister George Heyman said. However, playgrounds and campgrounds are closed until at least April 30. Washrooms and day-use facilities are also closed. 

Metro Vancouver said its parks remain open as do parks in Vancouver. Officials are asking people to enjoy the outdoors responsibly by keeping a two-metre distance and avoid crowds.  

In North Vancouver, officials are shutting down Quarry Rock and Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge indefinitely as of 7 a.m. Sunday because people weren't following directives to stay far enough away from each other.

Reduced public transit service

TransLink is reducing SkyTrain, Seabus and bus service due to declining ridership and to increased social distancing measures.

Some bus routes will have frequencies reduced.

The Expo and Millennium lines will run less frequently, but first and last train schedules will remain constant. 

SeaBus will now sail every 15 minutes during weekday rush hour instead of every 10 minutes.

Important reminders:

Health officials widely agree the most important thing you can do to prevent coronavirus and other illnesses is to wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your face. 

The World Health Organization said more than 80 per cent of COVID-19 infections are estimated to be mild.

What's happening elsewhere in Canada

As of 5 p.m. PT on Saturday,  there were 1,331 presumptive and confirmed cases in Canada, with 19 deaths and 13 resolved.

  • British Columbia: 424 confirmed, including 10 deaths, 6
    resolved.
  • Ontario: 377 confirmed, including 3 deaths, 6 resolved.
  • Alberta: 226 confirmed, including 1 death.
  • Quebec: 181 confirmed, including 5 deaths, 1 resolved.
  • Saskatchewan: 25 confirmed, 19 presumptive.
  • Nova Scotia: 9 confirmed, 12 presumptive.
  • Manitoba: 18 confirmed, 1 presumptive.
  • New Brunswick: 7 confirmed, 10 presumptive.
  • Canadians quarantined at CFB Trenton: 13 confirmed.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: 3 confirmed, 3 presumptive.
  • Prince Edward Island: 2 confirmed.
  • Northwest Territories: 1 confirmed.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Common symptoms include:

  • Fever.
  • Cough.
  • Tiredness.

But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia.

What should I do if I feel sick?

Stay home. Isolate yourself and call your local public health authority. Do not visit an emergency room or urgent care centre to get tested.

What can I do to protect myself?

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. Keep them clean.
  • Keep at least two metres away from people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Unless you're already infected, masks won't help you.
  • Be aware of evolving travel advisories to different regions.

More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.

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

Corrections

  • The provincial Ministry of Health initially said Saturday there were 74 new COVID-19 cases, but later corrected that number to 76. An earlier version of this story carried the incorrect number.
    Mar 21, 2020 5:33 PM PT

With files from The Canadian Press

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