British Columbia

What you need to know about COVID-19 in B.C. on April 2, 2020

As of Thursday afternoon, 1,121 people in B.C. have had confirmed infections with the novel coronavirus, and 31 people have died.

An outbreak has been identified at the Okanagan Correctional Centre and 6 more people have died

Lea Duck, a letter carrier with Canada Post, wears a mask as she delivers mail in downtown Vancouver on Wednesday. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

THE LATEST:

  • Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced there has been an outbreak at the Okanagan Correctional Centre.
  • Six more people have died in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 31 in the province.
  • There have been 55 new cases detected since Wednesday.
  • The total of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in B.C. is 1,121 as of Thursday.
  • Officials warn British Columbians not to travel to vacation homes in the province.
  • The province is increasing the monthly amount that people on income and disability assistance receive.
  • The number of people who have fully recovered is now 641.
  • Outbreaks have been confirmed at 21 long-term care and assisted living facilities.
  • There are 149 hospitalizations, including 68 in intensive care, across B.C.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced Thursday that there has been an outbreak of COVID-19 at the Okanagan Correctional Centre related to an inmate at the facility.

This is the first positive test detected in a B.C. correctional facility, Henry said during her daily briefing.

In the last 24 hours, there have been 55 new cases, bringing the total confirmed cases across the province to 1,121. Thirty-one people have now died from COVID-19 in B.C., including six people since Wednesday.

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

"But we are seeing the growth in a manageable way here in B.C."

Henry credits physical distancing measures with slowing the spread of the disease. There are currently 149 people hospitalized due to COVID-19, including 68 in intensive care. 

More than half of all confirmed patients — 641 in total — have fully recovered.

No more travel within B.C.

Health officials also warned against tourism and other non-essential travel in British Columbia to protect small communities.

"There are many of our smaller communities concerned about people coming to vacation homes and I am asking people now to forego those types of travel," said Henry.

She said those communities are particularly at risk if they experience outbreaks because they have access to fewer resources.

Health Minister Adrian Dix also reminded travellers returning to B.C. that they are required to self-isolate for 14 days as per federal and provincial orders.

"We need, as always, 100 per cent of people to follow the rules, especially those coming back to Canada in the days and weeks to come."

Province boosts income and disability assistance

The provincial government has announced it is increasing the monthly amount that people on income and disability assistance receive by $300, to help them during the COVID-19 crisis.

Anyone on those programs who is not eligible for the federal government's emergency support programs will have the supplement automatically added to their cheques for the three months, starting April 22.

Shane Simpson, B.C.'s Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, said low-income seniors will also receive the benefit.

Cases at 21 long-term care facilities

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced Wednesday that COVID-19 cases have also been confirmed at two new long-term care facilities, for a total of 21 homes experiencing outbreaks in the Lower Mainland.

She said B.C. still has some tough weeks ahead, but said "we will get through this" if people continue to stay physically distant from each other while maintaining social connections in other ways.

Watch: Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about signs of hope

B.C.’s provincial health officer says she’s received hundreds of support letters during this global COVID-19 pandemic. 2:01

Also on Wednesday, Health Minister Adrian Dix issued a sharp reminder to travellers returning from abroad: they are legally required to self-isolate for 14 days or they will face fines and face possible jail time. The minister said it would be a "a real betrayal" to fellow British Columbians to break the rules, after people at home have made an effort to do the right thing.

Meanwhile, the provincial government announced that BC Hydro is offering a three-month bill credit to people who are out of work or working at a reduced wage because of the outbreak. The credit will be three times their average monthly bill over the previous year and will not have to be repaid.

The benefit does not apply to tens of thousands of FortisBC customers living in Kelowna, the Okanagan Valley, the Boundary region and a number of communities in the West Kootenay.

For small businesses forced to close during the pandemic, the utility is offering bill forgiveness for April, May and June.

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, provinces and territories had reported 9,731 confirmed and presumptive cases, with 129 deaths. The provinces and territories that provide data on the cases considered resolved listed 1,739 cases as recovered.

The numbers, which are updated at least daily by the provinces and territories, are not a complete picture, as they don't account for people who haven't been tested, those being investigated as a potential case and people still waiting to learn the results of their test.

For a look at what's happening across the country, check the CBC interactive case tracker.

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.
  • Masks won't fully protect you from infection, but can help prevent you from infecting others.
  • 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.

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