British Columbia

What you need to know about COVID-19 in B.C. on April 15, 2020

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says province has 1,561 confirmed cases of COVID-19 to date. Seventy-five people have died of the disease.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says 3 more people have died bringing total deaths to 75

A man walks past a boarded up business in Vancouver’s Gastown neighbourhood during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

THE LATEST:

  • Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says three more people have died, bringing total deaths to 75. For the first time, a person in the Interior Health Region has died.
  • Henry says B.C. now has 1,561 cases. 955 people have recovered.
  • As of Wednesday, 131 COVID-19 patients were in hospital, including 59 in intensive care. 
  • Premier John Horgan extends provincial state of emergency for another two weeks.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced Wednesday three more people have died of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours. In total, 75 people in B.C. have died of the disease.

Henry said one of those deaths was the first in the Interior Health region. That person was a man in his 60s who was recovering at home.

In the past 24 hours, B.C. has recorded 44 new cases, bringing the total number to 1,561. A total of 955 people have recovered.

Henry said 131 people are in hospital, including 59 in intensive care. 

No new outbreaks were reported at long-term care homes. As of Wednesday, 21 homes have outbreaks of COVID-19 accounting for 265 cases.

At the Mission Institution, a federal prison, 48 cases have been found. Seven people are in hospital as a result of that outbreak. There is one case at the provincial Okanagan Correctional Centre.

Three new cases have been detected related to an outbreak at a nursery in the Okanagan that has infected a total of 26 people. 

Emergency extended

Premier John Horgan said B.C.'s state of emergency over the coronavirus pandemic has been extended another two weeks.

That means the state of emergency will last through the end of day April 28, giving the government continued power to take any steps necessary to respond to the health-care crisis and preserve the province's supply chains. Cabinet approved the extension Wednesday.

B.C. Premier John Horgan extended the COVID-19 state of emergency Wednesday, April 15. (Michael McArthur/CBC)

Horgan said he was "hopeful" that pandemic data modelling coming from provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry later in the week would be positive news.

"i believe that people have cause for genuine celebration collectively — and virtually, I should say — for the work we've done together to flatten the curve," Horgan said. "But we still have more work to do."

Horgan said that information would be presented Friday.

The premier added that any relaxation of emergency orders will come gradually, an approach he expected other jurisdictions to take, and will involve the direction of health authorities like Dr. Henry.

CERB eligibility requirements relaxed

The federal government is relaxing eligibility requirements for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit to include people who are still earning but with lower incomes, seasonal workers and those who have run out of employment insurance.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday people who earn up to $1,000 per month will soon be able to access the benefit. Seasonal workers and people at the end of their EI will also qualify for the $2,000-a-month benefit.

The prime minister said the government is planning to work with provinces to boost pay for essential workers making less than $2,500 per month, which would include many people who work in long-term care homes.

Speaking outside his Ottawa residence Wednesday, Trudeau also said a New Brunswick corporation, LuminUltra, is increasing production of chemical reagents needed to provide the required weekly supply for COVID-19 tests in all provinces.

He added Canada also received a new shipment of swabs required for the tests.

Kennedy Stewart: tax default scenario 'keeps me up at night'

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart provided an update on that city's financial situation, saying that if a large number of homeowners don't pay their entire 2020 property tax bill — as one-quarter of survey respondents said might happen — the city would face tough decisions going forward.

"This is what keeps me up at night," Stewart told reporters. "We simply don't have the reserves do deal with a half-a-billion-dollar shortfall."

The city has already laid off 1,500 workers out of its 11,000-strong workforce. The mayor hinted further efforts to trim the city's expenses could mean further layoffs.

Stewart said without provincial help, the city has limited options. The cash reserves, he said, stand at about $130 million.

There are billions of dollars in assets, he said, but most of it is in real estate and not easily converted into cash.

The mayor added it would be "short-sighted" and "dumb" to sell those assets during a global financial crisis.

Toilets for truckers

The B.C. government on Wednesday said it had installed around 20 portable toilets at commercial pull-outs and inspection stations across the province for long-haul truck drivers who continue to transport essential goods during the pandemic.

The British Columbia Trucking Association had previously said drivers' access to food and clean bathrooms had been cut down during the outbreak, as many of their traditional pit-stops had closed.

The province said the toilets were installed over the weekend. A statement said officials will consider "adding additional ones in the coming weeks."

At the national level, the Canada Border Services Agency announced Wednesday it is changing hours at 27 low-traffic U.S.-Canada crossings across the country as part of the government response to COVID-19. The affected crossings in B.C. are Cascade, Nelway and Rykerts.

Preliminary data from Statistics Canada Wednesday showed economic activity collapsed in March as it dropped a record nine per cent.

The Bank of Canada is warning that the downturn tied to COVID-19 will be the worst on record and that the economic recovery will depend on the effectiveness of current measures to bring the pandemic under control.

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 7 p.m. PT Wednesday, Canada had reported 28,379 presumptive and confirmed cases of COVID-19. A tally of COVID-19 deaths maintained by CBC News has recorded 1,056 deaths in Canada, with another two coronavirus-related deaths abroad.

The numbers 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 or 811. Do not visit an emergency room or urgent care centre to get tested.

Find information about COVID-19 from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

Non-medical information about COVID-19 is available in B.C. from 7:30 a.m.-8 p.m. PT, seven days a week at 1-888-COVID19 (1-888-268-4319).

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.

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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