British Columbia

COVID-19 outbreak confirmed at 2nd B.C. poultry processing plant

A new COVID-19 outbreak has been detected at a second poultry processing plant in the Lower Mainland, according to the provincial health officer.

4 more deaths for a total of 94 to date; B.C. now has 1,824 confirmed cases

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides an update on B.C.'s latest COVID-19 numbers. (MIke McArthur/CBC)

A new COVID-19 outbreak has been detected at a second poultry processing plant on the Lower Mainland, according to the provincial health officer.

Dr. Bonnie Henry said Thursday that two cases have been identified at the Superior Poultry plant in Coquitlam, a sister plant to the United Poultry location in Vancouver, where 29 people have now tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

The outbreak is under investigation by Fraser Health, but Henry said there are people working at both of the processing plants.

Over the last 24 hours, the province has recorded 29 new confirmed cases, for a total of 1,824 to date. Another four people have died, for a total of 94.

'We need to reboot B.C. without rebooting the virus'

While British Columbians are starting to think about how society might slowly open up if the province continues to flatten the curve of infection, Henry said everyone needs to be very careful about how that happens.

"How do we live with it without getting ourselves into trouble?" she said. "A misstep in the wrong direction puts us all at risk."

As Health Minister Adrian Dix put it, "We need to reboot B.C. without rebooting the virus."

Henry said that B.C. will have to have a manageable number of new cases for a few weeks — or ideally, no new cases — before the province is ready to open up again.

Thursday's numbers also include one new outbreak at a long-term care home in Kelowna, along with two new outbreaks in acute care units at Ridge Meadows and Lions Gate hospitals. At the same time, 10 outbreaks at other long-term care homes have been declared over.

To date, there have been 347 cases in long-term care, assisted living and acute care units. A total of 78 people have now tested positive at Mission Institution.

More men than women in hospital and ICU, Henry says

As of Thursday afternoon, there were 103 COVID-19 patients in hospital, including 44 in intensive care.  Although more than half of B.C.'s confirmed COVID-19 cases have been in women and girls, about two-thirds of hospitalized patients are male — and men make up 70 per cent of patients in the ICU.

A total of 1,090 people have now recovered from their illness.

Henry said B.C. can expect the novel coronavirus to be present in the community for quite some time.

"This is not forever. It is for now. Now may be months, it may be a year," she said. "Now is not the time to tip the scales against us with careless action."

On Wednesday, Henry said the province is preparing for future spikes in case numbers, saying there's "very much a potential of a surge to come in the fall." 

Earlier Thursday, the province announced applications for the B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers will open on May 1. It is a tax-free, one-time $1,000 payment announced in March for residents whose ability to work has been affected by the pandemic. 

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With files from Roshini Nair