British Columbia

What you need to know about COVID-19 in B.C. on May 6, 2020

23 new cases and three more deaths announced; Horgan to detail plans for B.C.'s gradual reopening.

23 new cases and three more deaths announced; Horgan to detail plans for B.C.'s gradual reopening

A woman buys herbal products through a plastic protective screen in Vancouver's Chinatown. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

THE LATEST:

  • Small gatherings will be allowed again in B.C., just in time for the long weekend
  • B.C. sends proposal to NHL to host games without fans
  • Province announces 23 new cases and three more deaths.
  • Some teachers in B.C. are returning to their classrooms as early as May 11.
  • As of Wednesday afternoon, 2,255 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in the province. 
  • 124 people have died.
  • 74 COVID-19 patients are in hospital, including 19 in intensive care.
  • 1,494 people have recovered.
  • Horgan, Henry and Dix to provide update at 10:30 a.m. PT Thursday on B.C.'s plan to restart cancelled surgeries.

After confirming three more deaths and 23 new cases of COVID-19 in B.C., Premier John Horgan announced the province will lift restrictions on small gatherings up to six people by next weekend.

"This is not a return to normal," said Horgan, joined by B.C. top doctor Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix. "This is a new normal."

The premier said the provincial restart will happen in phases, spaced out by two- to four-week time periods. It will start with allowing small gatherings, like backyard barbecues, as long as those participating aren't sick or showing any symptoms of COVID-19.

The first round of eased restrictions will happen in time for the Victoria Day long weekend. It will also include the opening of some B.C. parks, while haircuts and elective surgeries might be available again within weeks.

Restaurants and pubs will also be allowed to reopen over the next few weeks, as long as they are in compliance with physical distancing regulations.

Horgan said the province is preparing for the full resumption of classroom learning come September.

Horgan and health officials will expand on B.C.'s plan to perform surgeries put on hold during the pandemic at a news briefing scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Thursday. 

New cases

The total number of positive cases recorded in B.C. rose to 2,255 on Wednesday. The three additional deaths occurred in long-term care centres.

One was in the Island Health region and the other two were in Vancouver Coastal Health, according to the Ministry of Health.

Nearly 1,500 people have recovered from the disease.

Across B.C., 74 people with COVID-19 are in hospital, 19 of whom are in intensive care.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry laughs as Premier John Horgan lays out the details for B.C.'s plan for a gradual return to normal life. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

Plans for reopening

School districts across B.C. are drafting plans to reopen with teachers returning to classrooms as early as May 11 in some parts of the province. Plans, however, vary widely by school district.

Municipalities are also grappling with how best to move forward, with no timeline as to when COVID-19 will stop presenting a threat.  

Horgan said there is no timeline on when large gatherings, like concerts and sporting events, will return.

The priorities beginning in mid-May will include rebooting parts of the health-care system that have been idle, like dentistry, physiotherapy, chiropractic treatments, scheduled surgeries, outpatient services, diagnostic testing and imaging services.

A skateboarder is pictured at Terry Fox Plaza in Vancouver on Tuesday. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

British Columbians can also expect the return of services like hair salons, retail stores, museums, libraries, restaurants, pubs, office-based workplaces, transit, sports leagues and child care.

The goal, according to public health officials, is to allow for a return to about 60 per cent of normal interactions, without causing a surge in infections.

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In order to reopen, B.C. employers must have clear policies to make sure that anyone who has symptoms of a cold, the flu or COVID-19 does not go into work, provincial health officials said.

Sick day policies have to be developed on the understanding that staff will stay home sick more often, the province says, and employers need to come up with plans to accommodate seniors and those with existing medical conditions.

Thousands of British Columbians are currently out of work. Horgan said up to 400,000 residents have applied for the province's new emergency benefit.

Horgan said there must be definitive evidence that the curve has flattened before land border crossings are opened up.

In order to keep his hand-eye coordination sharp while the NHL remains on pause, Canucks netminder Jacob Markstrom is training with a tennis ball machine. (Rich Lam/Getty Images)

NHL proposal

Horgan also confirmed that he signed off on a proposal to host crowdless NHL games in B.C. as the league looks to resume play following a months-long hiatus. The document was sent to the league and to the NHL Players Association.

"Assuming that the games would be played without audiences, but instead would be played for television," Horgan stipulated.

The Vancouver Canucks confirmed the team has put forward a proposal for Vancouver to be a "hub city" for NHL teams to play in during the COVID-19 pandemic if that's the approach the NHL decides to pursue.

"We would certainly have a strong interest in hosting games in Vancouver … provided the plan is in accordance with guidelines set by health authorities and the provincial government," wrote Canucks chief operating officer Trent Carroll in an email.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has also thrown her support behind the idea.

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 4 a.m. PT on Wednesday, Canada had 62,046 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 27,006 of those cases as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally based on provincial data, local public health information and CBC's reporting listed a total of 4,166 COVID-19-related deaths in Canada, with another two deaths of Canadians abroad.

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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