British Columbia

No new COVID-19 deaths in B.C. Tuesday 'good news for all of us,' provincial health officer says

B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Tuesday she was pleased to be able to announce no new deaths in B.C. "for the first time in quite a few weeks."

As of Tuesday, there were 2,541 cases of COVID-19 in B.C., and 161 people had died

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix both said B.C. needed to stay its course on preventing the spread of COVID-19 despite the good news Tuesday of no new deaths. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Tuesday she was pleased to be able to announce no new deaths in B.C. "for the first time in quite a few weeks."

"That is good news for all of us," she said

At an afternoon briefing on COVID-19 with Health Minister Adrian Dix, Henry also reported 11 new cases of the novel coronavirus in B.C.

As of Tuesday, B.C. has had 2,541 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with a total 161 deaths.

"We're really grateful not to have to announce any new deaths today," Dix reiterated. "We acknowledge the 161 people who have passed away and their families and the struggles that they continue to be going through as they grieve."

Henry said there were no new outbreaks in either the health-care system or the broader community Tuesday. The outbreak at Richmond Hospital has been declared over.

That leaves the province with 15 active outbreaks: 14 in long-term care and one in acute care.

Across the province, 37 people are in hospital with COVID-19 and seven are in intensive care.

The province has 258 active cases as of Tuesday and 2,122 people have recovered.

Finding balance

Henry acknowledged Tuesday that she has heard criticism of B.C.'s reopening plans both from people concerned it is happening too fast and those frustrated it's happening too slow.

Henry said balancing those perspectives is difficult, but the goal is to have more days where no one dies of the virus.

"We cannot go back to our pre-COVID days," Henry said."We have to find that balance that allows us to get things moving … but not to go back to the place where this virus can take off."

Henry said as restrictions and guidance relax, public health officials are preparing for possible spikes in cases. 

It will remain important for people to keep up with existing guidance around physical distancing, handwashing and if necessary, wearing a mask.

The health minister spent part of the briefing reinforcing Henry's message.

Dix said British Columbians envious of other places where restrictions are being lifted faster should not be tempted to let their guards down.

"The lead to follow, right now, is our own," he said. "The shortest distance between where we are in B.C. and where we all want to be is to follow the guidelines Dr. Henry has provided."

Visits to long-term care

One area balance is being sought, Henry said, is for people living in long-term care facilities who have not been able to have in-person visits with family.

Henry said officials are working as fast as possible to improve visits and have been developing guidelines for some time.

"The challenge, really, is to make sure we protect the entire community," Henry said, after explaining that the circumstances of individual facilities may factor into how visits occur.

"We saw this in Ontario and Quebec that it can be so devastating. So we do have to find that balance."

NHL could take to ice in B.C.

Across Canada, there were over 86,614 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases, with 6,720 deaths.

On Tuesday, the City of Vancouver is putting forward a motion to work with police and business improvement associations to come up with suitable locations and a framework to allow drinking in public spaces, like parks and beaches. The final decision on alcohol use in those spaces, however, rests with the park board. 

Also on Tuesday, the NHL announced plans to have a 24-team playoff season, although with no formal timetable or location in place.

Vancouver is on the short list as a potential hub city.

If you have a COVID-19-related story we should pursue that affects British Columbians, please email us at impact@cbc.ca.

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