British Columbia

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

B.C. health officials have announced another 15 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and five more deaths from the novel coronavirus.

Province announces students will be going back to school on part-time, voluntary basis next month

B.C. provincial parks, including Golden Ears in Maple Ridge, reopened for day use on Thursday but the province cautions that's not an invitation for a road trip. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

THE LATEST:

  • There have been 2,407 COVID-19 cases in B.C., with 15 new cases reported Friday.
  • In all, 140 people have died from COVID-19 in the province. 
  • Of those who have tested positive, 1,908 people have recovered.
  • Parents will have the choice of bringing their children back to school on a part-time basis as of June 1.
  • Prime Minister announces extension of wage subsidy program until end of August.
  • Canadian home sales have plummeted to 1984 levels.

B.C. health officials have announced another 15 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and five more deaths from the novel coronavirus.

As of Friday afternoon, the province has seen 2,407 cases of the disease, 1,908 recoveries and 140 deaths, according to a written statement. There are now 359 active cases of COVID-19 in B.C. — 51 patients are in hospital, including 12 in intensive care.

Officials have also announced two new outbreaks of the illness. Two cases have been confirmed at the Oppenheimer Group, a fruit and vegetable processing plant in Coquitlam, and the disease has also been detected in an acute care unit at Abbotsford Regional Hospital.

There are currently ongoing outbreaks at 15 long-term care facilities and five acute care units in hospitals.

Schools gradually reopening in June

Earlier Friday, the province announced some children will begin going back to school on a part-time, voluntary basis as of June 1. 

Premier John Horgan said the gradual reopening will pave the way for a return to full-time classes in September.  Schools opening next month will have to abide by rigorous cleaning procedures and follow provincial health guidelines, Horgan said.

K-12 schools across the province have been shut down since March 17.

"The last two months have been a challenge for all of us," said Education Minister Rob Fleming.

Long weekend travels discouraged

Friday marks the beginning of the Victoria Day long weekend, and B.C. health officials have repeatedly stressed the importance of staying close to home

Deborah Marshall with BC Ferries says the company is seeing a lot more demand this weekend. There have been one- and two-sailing waits for some of the routes.

She says passengers may be concentrated on certain ferries because there are fewer sailings and the Horseshoe Bay route is temporarily suspended.

She says the Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay route will be back in service starting June 3.

Also on Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the government's emergency wage-subsidy program will be extended until the end of August to help employers keep their workers on the payroll during the coronavirus pandemic.

The $73 billion wage-subsidy program, which covers 75 per cent of an eligible company's payroll, up to a maximum of $847 per week per employee, was originally set to expire next month.

Across Canada, COVID-19 pushed Canadian home sales to their lowest level for April since 1984. The Canadian Real Estate Association numbers show that sales are in free fall, but prices don't seem to be doing the same yet.

READ MORE: How B.C. plans to ease COVID-19 restrictions

Top COVID-19 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 11:30 p.m. PT Thursday, provinces and territories reported a total of 73,401 cases. A CBC News tally of coronavirus-related deaths based on provincial data, regional health information and CBC's reporting stood at 5,576.

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

With files from The Canadian Press

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