British Columbia

What you need to know about COVID-19 in B.C. on April 23, 2020

After weeks of relatively steady growth in the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in B.C., Wednesday saw a sudden spike.

4 more deaths, 29 new cases and several new outbreaks including at another poultry plant

Two paramedics wearing personal protective equipment prepare a gurney outside Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster on Tuesday. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

THE LATEST:

  • 29 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in B.C., bringing the total to 1,824
  • 4 more people have died of the virus, bringing the total to 94
  • 103 COVID-19 patients are in hospital, including 44 in critical care.
  • 1,092 people have recovered from the disease.
  • New outbreaks declared at Hawthorne Manor, a long-term care home in Interior Health as well as 2 new outbreaks in Lions Gate and Ridge Meadows acute care units
  • Outbreaks at 10 other long-term care homes declared over. 
  • Cases of community transmission detected at Superior Poultry Plant in Coquitlam. It's the sister plant of United Poultry Plant in Vancouver, where 29 people have tested positive. 
  • 78 inmates and staff tested positive for COVID-19 at the Mission Institution.
  • The federal government has announced $1.1 billion in funding for vaccine and virus research.

After weeks of relatively steady growth in the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in B.C., this week has seen a sudden spike.

On Thursday, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced 29 new cases of the novel coronavirus, for a total of 1, 824. Those numbers include new outbreaks at a long-term care home in the Interior Health region, as well as two acute care centres.

Outbreaks at 10 long-term care homes across the province have been declared over. 

The province has now seen 94 people die of COVID-19, with the addition of four more deaths announced Thursday. There were 103 COVID-19 patients in hospital, down from a peak of 149 on April 4. Forty-four patients are currently being treated in intensive care. 

Seventy-eight people have tested positive for the virus at Mission Institution, a federal prison.

A total of 1,092 people have recovered from the disease.

Outbreak at 2nd poultry plant

Another poultry plant is seeing staff infected with the virus. Two positive tests were confirmed at the Superior Poultry Plant in Coquitlam, a sister plant of United Poultry Plant in East Vancouver, where 29 people have tested positive. 

Some people working in both places, said Henry. She expects there will likely be others in the new facility that are ill and will test positive. 

Investigations are ongoing at both facilities.

Reboot B.C., not the virus

While British Columbians are starting to think about how society might slowly open up if the province continues to flatten the curve of infection, Henry said everyone needs to be very careful about how that happens.

"How do we live with it without getting ourselves into trouble?" she said. "A misstep in the wrong direction puts us all at risk."

As Health Minister Adrian Dix put it: "We need to reboot B.C. without rebooting the virus."

Henry said while she would like to see no new cases for days and even weeks in a row, she recognizes the need to increase social and economic connections. But she was clear that won't happen unless there is "a manageable number of new cases" and appropriate measures in place to ensure the virus doesn't "take off again." 

"This is not forever. It is for now. Now may be months, it may be a year," she said. "Now is not the time to tip the scales against us with careless action."

Applications for $1,000 benefit open May 1

The province on Thursday said applications for the B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers will open May 1. It is the tax-free, one-time $1,000 payment announced in March for B.C. residents whose ability to work has been affected due to COVID-19.

To be eligible, applicants must also meet the eligibility requirements for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, among other criteria.

Abbotsford opens emergency response centre

A new emergency response centre is opening in Abbotsford to help those living on the streets and in shelters better mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The centre will have spaces to help with physical distancing, mobile showers and weekly meal service.

Individuals will be referred to the centre by Fraser Health. The centre will be staffed 24/7 and can provide those in need with access to primary care, harm reduction and overdose prevention services. 

It will be operated by the Lookout Housing and Health Society at the Bakerview Mennonite Brethren Church on Clearbrook Road. 

Presale of 'The Dr. Henry shoe' kicks off

Presales for the pink pumps named after the provincial health officer went online at 4 p.m. PT on Thursday, though the John Fluevog website was down during that time. It's unclear why. 

Henry has been known to wear shoes by the Vancouver designer at press conferences, and said she was honoured to work with him on this pair for a good cause. 

"I think it's a wonderful thing and I'm really appreciative of the work that John Fluevog does in the community and of course he makes beautiful shoes," said Henry. 

The shoes will retail for $339 Cdn with all proceeds going to Food Banks BC, a charity selected by Henry herself. 

"We know that it's been challenging for many people during this crisis to access food and food security has been even heightened for particularly people who are no longer employed, homeless or under housed, so to be able to support the food banks is very important to me."

$1.1B for vaccine, virus research

The federal government announced Thursday it is spending $1.1 billion to help develop, test and manufacture a COVID-19 vaccine. Most of the new money is set aside to fund vaccine development and clinical trials, but a portion of the money will also be used to determine how widely the virus has spread across the country.

"Until we have a vaccine or significant treatment, we're not going to be able to talk about getting back to normal," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.

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 5 p.m. PT Wednesday, there were 2,074 COVID-19-related deaths in Canada, plus two reported COVID-19-linked deaths of Canadians abroad, according to a CBC News tally based on provincial and local health data, as well as CBC reporting.

There are 40,190 confirmed and presumptive cases, and 13,994 resolved cases among the provinces and territories that make such data public. 

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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