British Columbia

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

As B.C. enters the second phase of its pandemic response, there are more signs that the COVID-19 curve is flattening.

Phase 2 of the reopening of B.C.'s economy begins today

Staff prepare to reopen Zazou Salon and Academy hair salon in North Vancouver, B.C., on May 13. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

THE LATEST:

  • Henry announced just two new cases of COVID-19 since Monday.
  • 146 people have died of the disease in B.C.
  • There have been 2,446 COVID-19 cases in B.C.
  • Of those who have tested positive, 1,975 people have recovered.
  • Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix will release a written briefing tomorrow at 3 p.m. PT.

As B.C. enters the second phase of its pandemic response, there are more signs that the COVID-19 curve is flattening

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said two new cases of the virus had been confirmed Tuesday, the lowest number since March 6.

Henry also reported three new deaths.

Those figures bring the total number of confirmed cases in the province to 2,446. Henry said 325 of those cases are active, with 45 people in hospital and 12 in critical or intensive care.

The province's death toll, meanwhile, stands at 146.

A man walks his bike across the plaza at the Vancouver Public Library on May 15. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

The reduced spread comes as businesses and services around the province reopen, with guidelines from the Ministry of Health and WorkSafe B.C.

"I want to reassure you that we would not be easing these restrictions if we did not feel we could do so safely" said Henry.

"We will do it safely, slow and together."

Later on Tuesday, the City of Vancouver rescinded an order that ended all table service in restaurants to allow them to reopen under the new provincial guidelines. The city is also accepting applications for temporary patio permits to provide more outdoor dining options.

An important milestone

Safe reopening proved to be the focal point of Tuesday's update, with the Provincial Health Officer indicating more guidance could be expected in the coming days.

Businesses need to have a COVID-19 safety plan in place before reopening, and it must be accessible to customers, employees and public health officials.

Henry warned Monday that the province could see a flare-up in cases as things enter the so-called 'new normal'.

"For many the transition brings anticipation — but it also brings further apprehension and anxiety as schools and businesses look to open once again," she said.

"We are still learning the new ways of safe social interactions and doing things we've never had to do before. And that itself can cause new anxiety and concern."

Border closure extended 30 days

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Tuesday the Canada-U.S. border closure will be extended until June 21. He said both countries agreed to extend the closure to "keep people in both our countries safe."

The current agreement banning all but essential traffic and goods was due to expire on Thursday. 

Health officials in B.C. have been adamant about the need for the border to remain closed to prevent the virus being spread over the border. The U.S. has more active cases of COVID-19 than any other country.

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 5:30 a.m. PT on Tuesday, Canada had 78,072 confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19, with 39,251 cases considered recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of coronavirus deaths based on provincial data, regional health information and CBC's reporting stood at 5,943. 

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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