British Columbia

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

Health officials in B.C. have announced another 18 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and three more deaths from the disease.

B.C. reports 18 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 3 more deaths

A worker cleans a window at Old Navy during the store's reopening in Vancouver on Thursday. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

THE LATEST:

  • There have been 2,507 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the province.
  • 155 people have died of the illness.
  • Of those who have tested positive, 2,042 people have recovered.
  • There are 41 patients in hospital, including eight in intensive care.
  • New outbreak declared at food processing plant in Abbotsford.
  • B.C. amends order banning mass gatherings to include drive-in events.

Health officials in B.C. have announced another 18 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and three more deaths from the disease.

Friday's update brings B.C.'s total to date to 2,507 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus and 155 deaths. A total of 2,042 people have recovered from their illnesses, bringing the number of active cases down to 310.

There are now 41 COVID-19 patients in B.C. hospitals, including eight in intensive care.

In a written statement, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Adrian Dix announced a new amendment on the order banning gatherings of more than 50. Any drive-in gatherings are now limited to 50 vehicles, with a restriction on sales of food and drinks.

"Anyone attending these events must stay in their cars unless they have to go to washrooms, which must be serviced with running water for proper hand hygiene," Henry and Dix said.

The total number of confirmed cases released on Friday includes 10 people who were infected in Alberta in connection with the outbreak at the Kearl Lake oilsands project and self-isolated there before returning home to B.C. Those cases had not previously been including in B.C.'s numbers.

Also on Friday, Fraser Health announced that a new outbreak has been detected at Nature's Touch, a frozen fruit processing plant in Abbotsford. Five workers have tested positive for COVID-19, and the company has temporarily closed the facility.

Federal funding for testing

Earlier Friday, the federal government announced it will fund provinces' efforts to test people for COVID-19, track the contacts of those who test positive and help different jurisdictions share data.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the measures are essential because COVID-19 remains a serious health threat, and the economy can't fully recover until Canadians are confident that the novel coronavirus that causes the illness will be contained anywhere new it breaks out.

Speaking from Ottawa, Trudeau said federal contact tracers are helping public health authorities in Ontario and are ready to make thousands more calls a day when any other province asks.

B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said this week that testing will continue to be crucial as the country reopens its economy, particularly when the flu returns in the fall. She said contact tracing for diagnosed cases will also play a role, but added surveillance systems, such as those launched in China and Hong Kong, are "probably not that helpful." 

"That one-on-one public health investigation is incredibly important, so if there [are] some applications that help us do that more efficiently, then that's what we're looking for," Henry said.

'A question of our obligations as human beings'

While B.C. may have flattened the curve of infection for now, health officials are urging British Columbians to take personal responsibility for protecting their communities from COVID-19.

During Thursday's daily briefing, Health Minister Adrian Dix urged people to follow provincial recommendations on physical distancing and hygiene as businesses and services begin to open up again.

"These small actions … are what we owe to one another to help prevent the spread of the virus," Dix said.

"It's not a question of rights, but a question of our obligations as human beings to one another during an extraordinarily difficult time."

A person lifts weights in an empty parking lot in Stanley Park in Vancouver on April 7. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The province announced Friday it will allow food and alcohol-oriented businesses, like restauarants, breweries and distilleries, to expand their patio space in order to accommodate customers while keeping in line with physical distancing.

The Vancouver Park Board said it is starting to reopen most parking lots at parks and beaches across the city. The board is looking to have them open by Sunday. 

"Parking at beaches and parks is also vital to ensure there is equity of access to these spaces, particularly for residents with mobility challenges," a statement read.

Pay parking and enforcement will be in effect at the pay lots. Parking will remain temporarily closed at lots in Stanley Park and English Bay as roads in the area are still closed to vehicle traffic, including along Beach Avenue. 

READ MORE: 

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 7 a.m. PT on Friday, Canada had 81,324 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases, with 41,728 of those considered resolved or recovered. A CBC News tally of deaths attributed to coronavirus based on provincial data, regional health information and CBC's journalism stood at 6,250.

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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