B.C. health officials say there are 11 new COVID-19 cases in B.C. as of June 16, including 10 test-positive cases and one epidemiologically-linked case.
A case with an epidemiological link is a case that has either been exposed to a confirmed case, or has had the same exposure as a confirmed case.
There are no new cases in Island Health as of Tuesday. There have been a total of 130 cases in the Island Health region since the pandemic began. Of those, 125 have recovered and there have been five deaths.
There have now been a total of 2,756 COVID-19 cases in the province, including 940 in Vancouver Coastal Health, 1,426 in Fraser Health, 130 in Island Health, 195 in Interior Health and 65 in Northern Health.
There are no new deaths as of June 16.
A total of 2,416 people have recovered and there are 172 active cases.
Eleven are in hospital (down two from Monday) and five are in intensive care. B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said at the beginning of April, there were 149 people in hospital with COVID-19.
There is one new healthcare outbreak, located at the Maple Hill long-term care facility in Langley. There are five active outbreaks at long-term facilities.
Dix said when the pandemic broke out, healthcare was using 12,000 N95 respirators every day. Before COVID-19, it was 1,800 a day.
Dix also said there were similar increases for other personal protective equipment (PPE).
“We’ve definitely learned from our experience,” Dix said, adding that the province needs to stock up and build the capacity to assess and test PPE. B.C. is establishing a PPE testing laboratory in Vancouver.
Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, said Tuesday that guidelines are being worked on to reopen spas, resorts and recreational sports. She said expertise B.C. has gathered will help it when it moves onto Phase 3 of its reopening plan.
Henry also reminded the public that it is still necessary to avoid crowds and take other measures against the spread of the disease.
“We are being thoughtful and measured in our response and we are adapting as we go,” she said.
She added that large gatherings will not be happening in the foreseeable future.
Crowds continue to be out of the question for the foreseeable future, Henry added.
“We will have the opportunity to do these things again, but just not now,” she said. “It only takes one person in a crowded setting to spread it to many others.”
Henry also said she will not disclose the name of a fast food restaurant in B.C. that had COVID-19 cases but said the initial person did not recognize they had symptoms. There was transmission between four or five staff but she’s not aware of any customers being exposed.
Earlier Tuesday, the B.C. government announced it was planning to expand measures to support restaurants, bars and tourism operations hard hit by COVID-19 restrictions.
The Ministry of Attorney General says a temporary wholesale pricing program will mean liquor licence holders can purchase beer, wine and spirits at reduced cost.
The program is set to begin at the end of next month and be in place until March 31, when it will be reviewed.
Restaurants, bars and pubs currently pay for liquor purchases at full retail price, which is the wholesale price, plus a retail markup set by the ministry’s liquor distribution branch.
The new system will eliminate the retail mark-up.
The ministry says in a statement that it is also working on several proposals from a separate report, including creating a new rural liquor licence regulated by its liquor and cannabis regulation branch later this year.
Attorney General David Eby says changing the pricing system for liquor sales will help the hospitality industry, which has been one of B.C.’s hardest hit sectors, affecting as many as 190,000 jobs.
“Offering a wholesale discount for licensees was something we were exploring before COVID-19, but after the onset of the pandemic we accelerated efforts in order to support these community businesses as they try to find their feet,” he says in the statement.
Also on Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the federal government will provide eight extra weeks of benefits for people whose jobs or earnings have vanished because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but only if they look for work and take a job when it’s reasonable to do so.
The changes to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit will continue to pay out $500 a week, but now for up to 24 weeks, instead of 16, for people who lost their jobs or saw their hours drastically slashed due to the pandemic.
Researchers with Johns Hopkins University and Medicine say globally, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has now passed 8 million, with more than 438,000 deaths. The United States continues to have the highest number of cases and deaths, followed by Brazil.
When asked about the latest outbreak in Beijing and the new cases in New Zealand, Henry said while B.C. has managed to flatten the curve in the province, “we cannot get rid of the virus when we still have people moving back and forth.”
She said health officials are watching very carefully what’s happening in China.
Watch Dr. Bonnie Henry and Minister Adrian Dix on June 16, 2020:
More to come
With files from The Canadian Press and CBC