British Columbia

What you need to know about COVID-19 in B.C. on April 22, 2020

B.C. has now seen 90 people die of COVID-19, and 1,795 have had confirmed infections with the novel coronavirus.

71 new cases of COVID-19, including 3 new deaths

A worker is pictured at the United Poultry processing plant in Vancouver on Tuesday after officials announced an outbreak at the site. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

THE LATEST:

  • 3 more people have died of COVID-19, bringing the total number of deaths to 90.
  • 71 new cases announced, for a total of 1,795.
  • A total of 103 people are in hospital, including 46 in critical care.
  • 1,079 people have recovered from the disease.
  • 28 employees of a Vancouver chicken processing plant have tested positive.
  • 77 positive-cases detected at the Mission Institution.
  • There have been outbreaks at 3 new long-term care homes, all in the Fraser Health region.

B.C. has now seen 90 people die of COVID-19, and 1,795 have had confirmed infections with the novel coronavirus.

As of Tuesday afternoon, there were 103 COVID-19 patients in hospital, down from a peak of 149 on April 4. Forty-six patients are currently being treated in intensive care. 

A total of 1,079 people have recovered from the disease.

Three new long-term care homes in the Fraser Health region are experiencing active outbreaks, while four other long-term care homes in the same health authority have been cleared.

The latest numbers released on Tuesday followed news of a new community outbreak at Vancouver's United Poultry Company chicken processing plant, where 28 workers have tested positive for COVID-19.

Keep staying home

"This tells us we have more work to do to break the chains of transmission in our communities," said Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C's provincial health officer. Henry says she understands people are tired of staying at home but without a decline in cases and outbreaks it won't be possible to ease restrictions.

"We can't afford to have any weaknesses in our firewall if we are going to be able to move ahead in to our new normal," she said. 

Henry once again urged people to stay home if they're not feeling well "with no exception right now." She said that includes whether you're experiencing mild symptoms or even if you think it's just allergies.

Dr. Henry also asked employers to not penalize employees if they're sick and to ensure those working can keep a safe distance from each other. 

"An outbreak in your business has effects on all of us," said Henry, also pointing out the significant financial impact it will have on the business as immediate shutdowns are required to deal with the outbreak. 

Testing expanded at Mission Institution 

Fraser Health says all inmates and staff, including non-correctional staff, at the Mission Institution will be tested for COVID-19.

The number of positive cases at the Mission Institution went up to 77. Five of those inmates are in hospital, making the medium-security prison the site of the largest outbreak of the virus at a federal institution in Canada.

Earlier this month, an inmate died of apparent COVID-19 complications after being taken to Abbotsford Regional Hospital. The identity of the inmate has not been released. Correctional Services Canada has said this is the first such death at one of its correctional institutions.  

A medical worker and prison guards are seen at a secure mobile medical unit set up at Abbotsford Regional Hospital to treat prisoners infected with COVID-19 from the Mission Institution correctional facility in Abbotsford, B.C., on April 18. (Jesse Winter/Reuters)

Reopening of select programs for students with high learning needs

The Vancouver School Board says it is opening in-school instruction for students with "exceptionally high learning needs" that depend on face-to-face interaction with education support workers and specialized life skills programs.

Attendance is optional, only for these select students, and initially will only be happening at one city school that has these specific programs.

In a statement, VSB said the plan is to offer the program a few days a week with a student support worker and a teacher.

A letter sent April 17 from Warren Williams, president of CUPE Local 15 Vancouver, to members said there would be no more than three students at a time in the school three times per week.

Members were told they are not required to wear masks but the VSB will provide hand sanitizer and gloves.

School districts continue to take direction from provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, who has yet to announce when it will be safe for all B.C. students to return to the classroom.

Federal support for students

Nationally, the federal government has announced the new $9-billion Canada Emergency Student Benefit scheme to help post-secondary students who have lost their opportunity for summer work but are left out of the CERB.

Students will be eligible for $1,250 every month from May to August. Those who are taking care of someone else or who have a disability could receive $1,750.

Students who are still working but earning less than $1,000 per month are still eligible, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday.

Trudeau said Ottawa is spending $291 million to extend scholarships, fellowships and grants for student researchers and graduate students to help them "keep working."

City helps DTES residents sign up for bank accounts

The City of Vancouver is helping residents of the Downtown Eastside set up bank accounts so they don't have to collect or cash cheques in person come next Wednesday when income assistance cheques are paid out.

With the help of Pigeon Park Savings and Vancity, residents are encouraged to sign up for bank accounts and the normal membership fees and ID requirements are waived. Nearly 200 new accounts have been opened in the past month, according to a City of Vancouver news release. 

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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  5 p.m. PT on Wednesday, Canada had 40,190 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 2,074 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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