British Columbia

What you need to know about COVID-19 in B.C. on March 26, 2020

The provincial government has taken a number of unprecedented steps to ensure people obey public health orders, stop hoarding vital supplies and ensure essential goods continue flowing into the province's stores and hospitals during the COVID-19 crisis.

Province announces unprecedented measures to prevent hoarding and profiteering of essential goods

A woman in a mask walks along Vancouver’s seawall on Wednesday. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

THE LATEST:

  • The City of Vancouver is planning around providing safe supply to addicts.
  • TransLink will start limiting seating on Metro Vancouver buses next week.
  • Violating public health orders in B.C. is now punishable by fines upwards of $25,000.
  • Reselling essential supplies like medical gear is now banned in B.C. Fines can reach $10,000.
  • Municipal states of emergency have been suspended, except in Vancouver.
  • A specialized unit is now in place to ensure vital supplies keep flowing into B.C. during the crisis.
  • B.C. now has 725 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 14 deaths. 
  • Nine long-term care homes in the province have COVID-19 cases.
  • 66 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized, including 26 in intensive care.
  • 186 patients have recovered.

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart says the federal government has given the green light to providing a safe drug supply  to those with substance use disorders in light of the COVID-19 crisis. Stewart said the city is awaiting details of the rollout from the province.

The Roundhouse and Coal Harbour community centres in Vancouver have been designated emergency response centres for the homeless living in the Downtown Eastside and will operate around the clock on a referral-only basis. 

Seniors and volunteers who want to help them are being urged to call the 211 helpline to connect to support and organizers who are arranging things like grocery pick up and medication or meal drop off.

A family joins the cheer for heathcare workers at 7 p.m. in Vancouver’s West End on Wednesday, March 25, 2020. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

TransLink will be limiting seating to roughly half normal capacity on all Metro Vancouver buses starting next week to promote physical distancing. Once a bus reaches its new capacity, operators will no longer stop to collect passengers.

The provincial government is taking a number of unprecedented steps to ensure people obey public health orders, stop hoarding vital supplies and to keep essential goods flowing into the province's stores and hospitals during the COVID-19 crisis.

People who ignore public health orders, including a ban on large gatherings, can now be fined upwards of $25,000. Jail time is also possible, the province said Thursday.

City bylaw officers across the province now have the power to help enforce those orders, through education and potentially gathering evidence of a violation.

The province has also created a new provincial supply chain co-ordination unit to better control the flow of essential goods and services, including medical supplies. There is also a ban on reselling vital supplies, such as masks and cleaning products. People who break that order can be fined up to $10,000 or jailed for one year.

The provincial government also suspended local states of emergency specific to the COVID-19 pandemic, excluding the City of Vancouver as that city has its own Charter.

725 cases in B.C.

There were 66 new cases of COVID-19 identified in B.C. on Thursday, bringing the provincial total to 725.  Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said there were no new deaths, as the total number COVID-19 deaths remained at 14.

Henry said 186 people had recovered from the illness as of Thursday.

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

The majority of the deaths are linked to long-term care facilities in the Lower Mainland, with 11 tied to the outbreak at the Lynn Valley Care Centre and another to the outbreak at Haro Park Centre. The other deaths were in the Fraser Health region.

Outbreaks at a growing number of care facilities have led to COVID-19 diagnoses for 55 health-care workers to date. 

Henry announced a new order Wednesday ensuring people who work in such care homes are limited to working at a single facility, rather than working in multiple facilities on any given day, in an attempt to curb the spread of the disease.

  • If you have recovered from COVID-19 and want to share your experience, please email us at impact@cbc.ca.

Financial aid

The federal government on Wednesday revealed the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit, which will provide $2,000 a month for four months for people who have lost their income because of COVID-19.

Later Wednesday, the B.C. government announced its plan for supporting tenants and landlords through the crisis. It includes a freeze on most evictions and rent increases, as well as a monthly rebate of up to $500 for struggling renters.

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 3 a.m. PT Thursday, there were more than 3,400 confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 in Canada, with 36 deaths and 197 cases listed as recovered or resolved. (Not all provinces are listing details about people who have recovered.)

There has also been one COVID-19-related death of a Canadian reported abroad. Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's top public health officer, said a passenger of the Diamond Princess cruise ship died in Japan.

For a look at what's happening in other provinces and the territories, check the CBC interactive case tracker.

Travellers returning to Canada from abroad are now facing a new, mandatory order to self-isolate for 14 days. Under the new measure, which makes some exceptions for health-care workers and truckers, people can be fined or even jailed if they ignore the order to stay home.

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.
  • When outside the home, keep two metres away from other people.
  • 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. 

With files from The Canadian Press

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