British Columbia

Failure to quarantine after travel would be 'a real betrayal,' B.C.'s health minister says

Fifty-three new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in B.C., bringing the province's total to 1,066. A total of 25 people have died of the disease in the province, with one new death recorded Wednesday.

The number of COVID-19 cases in B.C. has risen to 1,066 with 25 deaths

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix says there can be no ambiguity about the legal responsibility to self-isolate after travel abroad. (Michael McArthur/CBC)

As B.C.'s number of COVID-19 patients continues to rise, Health Minister Adrian Dix is reminding British Columbians of their legal obligation to quarantine themselves for two weeks after travelling abroad.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced Wednesday that 53 new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in B.C., bringing the province's total to 1,066 so far. A total of 25 people have died of the disease in the province, with one new death recorded Wednesday.

During the same briefing, Dix took a hard line on travellers returning to British Columbia from abroad, reminding them that a 14-day quarantine is not optional — it is the law and enforceable with fines and even jail time.

"It would be, I think, a real betrayal to the people in your community not to follow those rules," Dix said. "Everybody who comes home has to understand that and to follow those rules"

He said those legal responsibilities must be communicated clearly before passengers board flights to Canada and after they get off the plane.

"There can be no ambiguity anymore, if there ever was, about people's obligations when they get home," Dix said.

Watch: Health minister says there are no exceptions to quarantine rules

No exceptions to quarantine rule after travel

3 years ago
Duration 0:55
B.C.’s health minister, Adrian Dix, says failure to quarantine after travel would be ‘a real betrayal of the people in your community.’

Henry said there are now 142 patients in hospital, including 67 in critical care. A total of 606 people have recovered from their illness.

B.C. currently has 4,192 acute care beds in hospitals available to COVID-19 patients, which he credits to the cancellation of non-urgent elective surgeries.

Outbreaks have now been identified at a total of 21 long-term care homes in B.C., with two new facilities in Burnaby and Mission added to the list on Wednesday. The majority of those outbreaks are small — often with just one case — but the ones at Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver and Haro Park Centre in Vancouver continue to be a source of concern.

"This is a very challenging time for us. It's hard to know how things are going to go. Without a doubt, we will get through this," Henry said.

"We do have a few more weeks to go."

She once again urged British Columbians to keep up their physical distancing, staying at home whenever possible and keeping a two-metre distance from others when outside the home.

If people can commit to doing that much now, Henry said, the coming months will be easier.

'We will get through this together'

She also encouraged people to keep up their social connections, and said she sees things every day that make her smile, like the 7 p.m. cheers for health-care workers, virtual kindergarten classes, late-night gaming sessions among teenagers, flour mills working around the clock to support the new enthusiasm for bread baking, people leaving flowers and groceries for their neighbours and businesses offering support.

"We will get through this. We will get through this together," Henry said.

She once again defended B.C.'s strategy for testing potential COVID-19 patients, saying the province has "dramatically increased our testing capacity," with a strong focus of vulnerable populations, community outbreaks, long-term care homes and health-care workers.

Henry said B.C.'s testing rate is one of the highest in the world.

"We're up there with South Korea and Quebec. It's not like we're not testing. Our strategy has changed to where it makes the most difference," she said.

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