British Columbia

What you need to know about COVID-19 in B.C. on April 21, 2020

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in B.C. continues to fall, but health officials say any loosening of the restrictions on daily life is still a long way off.

There are 25 new cases in B.C., 1 new death

Vancouver police officers wear masks while making an arrest downtown on April 20, 2020. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

THE LATEST:

  • 25 new cases in B.C., bringing the total number of cases to 1,724. 
  • 1 new death reported for a total of 87.
  • A total of 109 people are in hospital, including 51 in critical care.
  • 28 employees have tested positive for COVID-19 in an outbreak at United Poultry Company Ltd., a Vancouver chicken processing plant.
  • Ottawa announced $350 million in funds for community groups and charities that help the vulnerable.
  • The CRA launched a new calculator to help employers figure out how much they're eligible for in wage subsidies.
  • Car-sharing service Evo has allocated 250 of its vehicles exclusively to health-care workers.
  • Anyone with symptoms can now be tested for COVID-19.

As of Tuesday afternoon, there were 109 people in hospital with the novel coronavirus, down from a peak of 149 on April 4. Fifty-one patients are currently being treated in intensive care. 

Another senior living in long-term care has died of COVID-19, bringing the total deaths linked to the disease in B.C. to 87.Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced Tuesday that B.C. has confirmed 25 more cases of COVID-19, for a total of 1,724 so far, while 1,041 people have recovered.

At the Mission Institution, 76 people have tested positive, including 65 inmates and 11 staff.

Outbreak at food processing plant

A new outbreak has been confirmed at a Vancouver food processing plant. Henry said 28 workers at Vancouver's United Poultry Company Ltd. who have tested positive from the disease.

The plant has been shut down, and Henry addressed fears about the safety of its products.

"We don't have any evidence that COVID-19 can be spread from meat," she said.

Though she did encourage following good hygiene practices during food handling and preparation. 

Vancouver Coastal Health was notified of a positive case on Sunday, the health authority along with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency are investigating. 

Restaurants reopening

On Tuesday, restaurant and bar owners started brainstorming ways to open again under strict guidelines, after Dr. Henry asked the industry Monday to come up with innovative ideas to partially reopen in the coming weeks, with physical distancing and no more than 50 patrons at a time in an establishment.

As for other businesses like dental offices or physiotherapy, where close contact is unavoidable, Dr. Henry said the setups for those business will have to be revised to ensure physical distancing and good hand hygiene. 

She pointed to examples such as not having everyone sitting in the waiting room at the same time, seeing less patients in a day and ensuring there is separation between staff.

Also Tuesday, Vancouver-based exercise apparel brand Lululemon issued statements apologizing for the actions of one of its art directors who promoted a T-shirt design linking the coronavirus to Chinese takeout that triggered outrage and accusations of racism online. 

Emergency room visits

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix is encouraging people to seek out care if they need it after emergency room visits dropped off and some physicians raised concerns about it.

"The health-care system is there for you. There are many, many people who are struggling with non-COVID-19 conditions and that system is there for you," said Dix.

He said the number of emergency room visits is returning to more normal levels. On April 6, daily emergency visits fell below 3,000 but as of April 21, there were over 4,000 visits. While still far below visits in March, before the pandemic was declared, it is starting to pick up.

Vaccine compliance

Dr. Henry said once a vaccine becomes available there are plans in place for mass vaccination clinics. Health-care workers, seniors and those who are immunocompromised will be prioritized. 

"It doesn't mean that everybody has to have this, and certainly, we don't have any mandatory immunizations in this country and I would not see us having mandatory immunization either,' said Henry.

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 6 p.m. PT on Tuesday, provinces and territories had reported 38,409 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. A CBC News tally of COVID-19-related deaths, based on provincial and regional health data, as well as CBC's reporting, listed 1,911 coronavirus-related deaths in Canada. There have been two reported COVID-19-related deaths of Canadians 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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