British Columbia

What you need to know about COVID-19 in B.C. on April 9, 2020

The number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in B.C. continues on its slow downward trend, but outbreaks in long-term care homes remain a major concern.

Two more deaths related to COVID-19, bringing the total to 50 deaths in B.C.

Workers at Novo Textiles Co. make surgical masks in Coquitlam, B.C., on Wednesday. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

THE LATEST:

  • Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced there have been 34 new cases in the last 24 hours.
  • A total of 1,370 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in B.C.
  • 50 people have died.
  • 858 patients have recovered from their illness.
  • Renters can now apply for a temporary rental supplement for the months of April, May, and June. 
  • 24 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 at a prison in Mission, B.C.
  • The province is spending $5 million to boost mental-health supports for British Columbians.
  • The Canadian economy lost more than 1 million jobs in March, Statistics Canada has confirmed.
  • In B.C., 132,000 jobs were lost in the space of one week alone.

Two more people have died of COVID-19 related illness in British Columbia, bringing the total number of deaths across the province to 50.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced 34 new cases on Thursday, for a total of 1,370 positive cases of the virus in the province. So far, 858 patients have fully recovered from their illness.

Health authorities noted there has again been a slight reduction in the number of acute care cases with 132 currently in hospital, including 68 in intensive care.

"We are not over the hump yet. We are going to have a bumpy ride for awhile," said Henry on Thursday. "Going into this long weekend, it is more important than ever that we keep going."

Long-term care staffing

An outbreak at a B.C. long-term care home has been resolved, meaning there are now 20 active outbreaks in long-term care homes, and 138 residents and 88 staff have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

The majority of COVID-19 related deaths in British Columbia, 30 of 50, have occurred at long-term care homes.

Henry says a process to ensure health-care workers stay at a single site only is now being implemented. The official health order was announced weeks ago, but Health Minister Adrian Dix says it involved co-ordinating thousands of workers in both public and private organizations.

"This involves 4,200 workers that will effectively have where they work change. It is an exceptional change."

A serious outbreak at Mission Institution in the Fraser Valley has also worsened and 24 inmates have now tested positive for the virus.

Job losses

The first round of employment figures since daily life changed due to COVID-19 was released Thursday, giving Canadians a grim sense of how many jobs have been lost in decimated sectors over the past month.

Statistics Canada said more than one million jobs were lost nationwide in March, pushing the jobless rate up to 7.8 per cent and blowing economists' estimates out of the water

The agency said B.C. lost 132,000 jobs between March 15 and 21, just as officials declared a provincial state of emergency and ramped up physical distancing. The provincial unemployment rate rose to 7.2 per cent. 

B.C. Finance Minister Carole James said the numbers will worsen in April.

"This is very early in the pandemic and I do believe that we're going to see tougher numbers," she said Thursday.

B.C. Finance Minister Carole James previously announced a $5-billion economic relief plan to support families, businesses and economic recovery in response to COVID-19. (Michael McArthur/CBC)

The restaurant, hospitality, culture and recreation sectors have been particularly decimated in B.C., but James said the diversity of industries within the provincial economy will help its eventual recovery.

"I don't have a crystal ball and nobody can really predict when we'll have that kind of turnaround," she said Thursday. "[But] diversification will do British Columbia well."

Job loss and tight finances, combined with other stressors of a pandemic and social isolation, have contributed to widespread concern for mental health across the country. Experts have said mental illness will be the "next wave" of the outbreak.

Premier John Horgan and Judy Darcy, B.C.'s minister of health and addictions, are making an announcement about supports for mental health at 10:15 a.m. PT, right after James' event.

Stay home this weekend, officials urge

Meanwhile, the upcoming long weekend continues to be a concern for officials in B.C. Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix have repeatedly pleaded with British Columbians to stay at home and resist the temptation to travel to second homes in small communities that might not have the resources to handle an outbreak.

A man walks down an empty street in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia on Thursday, April 2, 2020. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

All provincial parks in B.C. are closed as of Wednesday.

Metro Vancouver has also closed regional parks for the long weekend including Deas Island Regional Park, Boundary Bay Regional Park, Barnston Island Regional Park and Brae Island Regional Park. The parking lots at Lynn Headwaters Regional Park and the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve will also be shut during the long weekend.

Dix has also asked that Albertans and British Columbians avoid any non-essential travel between the two provinces. The message has been echoed at the national level.

 

National case models released

On Thursday, federal health officials projected there could be nearly 32,000 cases of COVID-19 and between 500 and 700 deaths in Canada by April 16.

Officials in B.C. have not released modelling on projected fatality rates to the public. Horgan has said he is not going to direct Henry to do so.

"I don't feel any pressure to do that," the premier said Wednesday. "The objective in my mind, and in her mind, of the modelling is to prepare our acute care system to address illness. It's not to give counts of potential fatalities.

"I don't believe there's any value in further frightening British Columbians. We need to use that modelling for practical reasons, and that is to make sure our system is prepared."

Top stories today

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 4:30 p.m. PT on Thursday, Canada had reported 20,765 confirmed and presumptive cases. The provinces and territories that offer data about cases that are considered to be recovered listed 4,666 cases as resolved. CBC News has counted a total of 476 COVID-19-related deaths in Canada, and there are two known coronavirus-related deaths of Canadians abroad.

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 for test results. 

For a look at what's happening across the country and the world, 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

With files from The Canadian Press

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.