British Columbia

What you need to know about COVID-19 in B.C. on March 29, 2020

While 92 new cases of COVID-19 were announced Saturday, Dr. Bonnie Henry said the percentage rate of growth has decreased to about 10 per cent. Still the virus has been found in 12 long-term health care centres in the province and officials are asking for a big effort from residents to keep physical distance from one another.

The latest news about the coronavirus pandemic in B.C.

Reuben Huva, 99, gives a thumbs up after being declared free of COVID-19 on Wednesday at his West Vancouver care home. (Linda Horspool)

THE LATEST:

  • Companies are stepping up to build medical equipment for hospitals.
  • Family, health care workers at Lynn Valley care home speak about conditions there.
  • Grocers say they're worried but proud to provide an essential service.
  • The federal government has announced new support for youth and seniors affected by COVID-19.
  • There are a total of 884 cases in the province with 92 new cases announced Saturday and 1 new death.
  • 45 per cent of those who have contracted the coronavirus — 396 people — have recovered. 
  • British Columbians are sharing their stories of hope and recovery.

Provincial health officials don't provide their daily update on Sundays, but there is still plenty happening in COVID-19-related news across British Columbia.

Companies in the province are stepping up to build medical equipment and ventilators for hospitals.

Hospitals and local health authorities say they've been overwhelmed by the number of calls and emails coming in from individuals and companies wanting to donate equipment.

One Vancouver company was able to shift to printing face shields thanks to an open source file that's been used in Europe to make them.

Family members speak out

Meanwhile, family members, health-care professionals and community members linked to the Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver have spoken out about conditions there

In interviews with CBC News, they spoke about the march of a virus that has moved through the facility in much the same way it has through the world, preying on vulnerabilities that seem obvious in hindsight: reliance on a subcontracted labour force whose members, often migrant workers, work multiple jobs to make ends meet; gaps in communication; a societal reluctance to talk about the basics of hygiene.

Grocery store employees are also speaking out about their concerns working in places where they have to interact with hundreds of people a day.

Food purveyors say they've never experienced more demand than they have recently as frenzied shoppers raced to stock up their pantries and freezers. Despite the hazards, many say they're proud to provide an essential service.

The virus is also taking its toll on relationships, as people wonder what happens to romance and relationships amid a global pandemic.

More help for vulnerable Canadians

On the national front, on Sunday morning Trudeau pledged more help for vulnerable Canadians struggling with coronavirus crisis.

The federal government has pledged $7.5 million in funding to Kids Help Phone to provide mental health support to children and youth impacted by school closures and reduced access to social support and community resources.

The government will also boost aid for Canadian seniors, contributing $9 million through United Way Canada to help the country's older population get groceries, medication and other critical items.

FOIPPA order

The B.C. government announced a new ministerial order under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPPA) that will enable the broader use of communications tools in the fight against COVID-19.

The order will help people working on the front lines to share information with individuals using apps such as Slack. 

The province says the order was needed to "to temporarily enable the use of technologies that would otherwise be restricted under FOIPPA's current rules."

The latest numbers in B.C.

On Saturday provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said although the number of new cases was one of the largest daily increases since the outbreak began, the percentage rate of growth has fallen to about 10 per cent. 

But Henry warned that a severe outbreak is still possible if people don't continue to follow advice from health officials, which includes physical distancing and staying home if you are sick.

The provincial health officer also confirmed that B.C. has been using anti-malarial and anti-viral drugs in trials at one facility, although she didn't confirm where. 

Henry and provincial Health Minister Adrian Dix will hold their next media availability and update from Victoria on Monday at 1:30 p.m.

Stories of hope and recovery

Meantime, stories of people struggling with, and overcoming infections, are being shared.

A 99-year-old West Vancouver man who tested positive for COVID-19 has recovered completely and is back to his "cheerful old self," his daughter says after his symptoms resolved while receiving care at the Hollyburn House retirement home.

British Columbians around the province are also sharing their stories of coping with the uncertainty by making time for things they didn't do before the pandemic such as exercising more, baking and laughing.

How have you been affected by the coronavirus? Let us know by emailing covid@cbc.ca and include "personal story" in your subject line.

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 Saturday Canada had a total of 6,320 confirmed and presumptive cases, with 66 deaths. Two Canadians have died outside of the country. To date, provinces have listed 592 cases as recovered or resolved. (Not all provinces are listing that information.)

For a look at what's happening in other provinces and the territories, 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.
  • 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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