British Columbia

What you need to know about COVID-19 in B.C. on May 17, 2020

B.C. health officials announced another 21 confirmed cases of COVID-19 Saturday and one more death from the novel coronavirus.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced 21 new cases of the virus on Saturday

Shoppers in masks and gloves carry grocery bags in Vancouver earlier this week. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)


  • Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced 21 new confirmed cases on Saturday.
  • There has also been one more death, for a total of 141 who have died of the disease in B.C.
  • There have been 2,428 COVID-19 cases in B.C.
  • Of those who have tested positive, 1,932 people have recovered.
  • The B.C. Nurses' Union says it's concerned about a new outbreak at the Abbotsford Regional Hospital.

British Columbia's top doctor is urging residents to stay close to home over the long weekend to mitigate transmission of COVID-19 before some businesses reopen on Tuesday.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says much of the virus's spread has occurred because symptoms are often mild, especially in the early stages of illness, and people may not recognize it could be COVID-19 making them sick.

Phase 2 of B.C.'s restart plan kicks off Tuesday and Henry says the latest guidelines for businesses that are allowed to begin reopening are now available on the province's website.

She says each business must have a COVID-19 safety plan in place that customers, employees and public health officials may access.

On Friday, WorkSafeBC announced protocols for businesses in many sectors that are getting the green light to reopen: restaurants, cafés and pubs, real estate, arts and cultural facilities, retail, K-12 education, parks and outdoor spaces, health services, in-person counselling and office space.

COVID-19 cases

B.C. reported 21 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, bringing the province's total to 2,428.

Henry says 355 of those cases are active, with 49 people in hospital and 11 in critical or intensive care.

The cases include a new outbreak at Abbotsford Regional Hospital, where six health-care workers and two patients have tested positive. 

The B.C. Nurses' Union says it's concerned about the outbreak there, especially given that the facility is one of a few dedicated to treating the illness. 

But Henry addressed those concerns at her daily briefing on Saturday, saying that shortage of personal protective equipment is not the issue there. 

"This outbreak reminds us of how pernicious this virus is," she said.

141 deaths

On Saturday it was announced that one more person died after contracting the novel coronavirus, raising the province's death toll to 141.

Henry says there are no new community outbreaks, but there are ongoing outbreaks in 15 long-term care facilities and five acute care units, as well as a fruit and vegetable processing facility in Coquitlam. 

To date, 1,932 people have recovered from the disease. 

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

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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 Sunday, there were 77,002 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Canada. A CBC News tally of coronavirus-related deaths based on provincial data, regional health information and CBC's reporting stood at 5,782 as of Saturday.

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

With files from The Canadian Press


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