16 new cases of COVID-19 in B.C. but none in Island Health

16 new cases of COVID-19 in B.C. but none in Island Health
Province of BC
Chief Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides an update on COVID-19 on May 13, 2020.

B.C. health officials say there are 16 new confirmed COVID-19 cases in the province, but none of the new cases are in Island Health.

Island Health has not had any new cases since May 8, 2020. The number of cases remains at 125. Of those 125, 115 people have recovered.

There is now a total of 2,376 cases of COVID-19 in B.C., including 877 in Vancouver Coastal Health, 1,137 in Interior Health, 125 in Island Health, 180 in Interior Health and 57 in Northern Health.

A total of 1,859 people have recovered, about 78 per cent of confirmed cases. Fifty-nine people are in hospital in the province (down from 63 on May 13), with 14 in intensive care.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, also said Wednesday there is one new death, bringing the provincial death toll to 132. The death was in the Fraser Health region, at a long-term care facility.

There are no new community outbreaks. There continues to be 15 active outbreaks in long-term care homes and five in acute-care facilities. A total of 299 residents and 190 staff have tested positive.

On Tuesday, a B.C.-wide COVID-19 survey was launched, asking people to share their experiences with the COVID-19 pandemic. Henry said more than 75,000 people have responded as of noon on Wednesday. She encourages young people to complete the survey.

“This helps us understand unknown impacts,” Henry said.

“Please take a few minutes to fill it in. We want to hear from people across the province.”

The province is set to enter Phase 2 of the B.C. Restart Plan on May 19. Health Minister Adrian Dix reminded people that this coming long weekend is not the time for non-essential trace.

“If you do not need to go somewhere, even if it’s a second home, even if it’s a place you to every Victoria Day weekend, the way we can help one another is not engage in non-essential travel,” Dix said.

However, Dix said people should not judge those who choose to travel for whatever reason. He asks that those who are travelling bring their own food and limit contact with the community.

On Wednesday, Henry offered more details about what social interaction might look like in the coming weeks. The limit of gatherings of up to 50 people is going to remain in place and Henry said that number is permissible only if there’s enough space for everyone to maintain a safe distanc

“If you’re thinking about adding others to your bubble, keep your group small,” Henry said.

“Find those people who it is more important to spend time with. Keep them small and consistent.”

Henry said when people go out, they should make it sure it is with a small group of people.

“Don’t change it up every day,” Henry said.

“That’s not going to be helpful right now. You need to commit to each other in the coming weeks and months that you’re going to protect each other and care for each other.”

She added that people should not be sharing drinks or food with friends. If people are indoors, people should keep apart as much as they can and make sure visits are shorter.

Henry said starting next week, religious services can be held with safe physical distancing and a limit of 50 people, if there is enough space in a venue.

“Be mindful of the room you’re in, how long the service may be and who are your congregants,” Henry said.

Large retail stores and department stores can have more than 50 people if they can maintain safe physical distancing, Henry said. But the time in the stores should be “short and efficient” she added.

As for the summer, Henry said she wants people to be able to enjoy barbecues but if people are inviting friends, they need to consider if there is anyone at high risk of COVID-19 complications in their household. Groups should be small and there should be individual servings rather than buffet. There also needs to be space between chairs.

Henry said she understands people want clear rules that apply to everyone.

“But the reality is our path forward is individual based on our own unique circumstances. That goes for businesses as well.”

Henry said facilities and friends can have conversations this weekend about what gatherings will look like in the future.

“Everybody in B.C. has shown incredible determination and that is why we are at the place where we are now,” Henry said.

Earlier Wednesday, Canada’s chief public health doctor says Canadians in communities where COVID-19 still spreading should wear non-medical masks when they can’t stay physically distant from others.

Dr. Theresa Tam is also urging Canadians not to forget how hard this pandemic has hit vulnerable seniors in long-term care homes and the need to ensure that the standards of care in seniors’ residences are improved.

While Tam said almost half the people confirmed to have COVID-19 in Canada have now recovered, and most provinces reported either no or very few new cases Wednesday, Ontario and Quebec are still seeing hundreds of new COVID-19 patients every day. Long-term care centres account for a large number of them. Nationally, one-fifth of all cases, and more than four-fifths of all deaths from COVID-19, are connected to long-term care, with outbreaks in hundreds of facilities.

Ontario, where outbreaks of COVID-19 have hit 40 per cent of the long-term care homes, became the latest province to take steps to control management of privately run long-term care homes Wednesday, enacting an emergency order to give itself that power. Premier Doug Ford said it will mean Ontario is better prepared to “immediately swing into action if a home is struggling to contain this deadly virus.”

Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia have all stepped in to take over management of some privately run homes after outbreaks got out of control.

Tam said there are many lessons to be learned from this “tragic characteristic” of the pandemic in Canada, and said we can’t “let these lessons be forgotten.”

“I think improving all those standards and conditions for our seniors is very important,” she said.

But during a House of Commons health committee virtual meeting Wednesday, several advocates for seniors were blistering in their criticism of governments’ management of long-term care. Paul Brunet, the president of the Conseil pour la protection des malades in Quebec, said Canada and Quebec both ignored warnings issued by the World Health Organization in February and March about the risks COVID-19 was posing to vulnerable seniors living in care homes.

Jodi Hall, the chair of the Canadian Association for Long Term Care, said hundreds of facilities in Canada simply cannot do what the public health recommendations say – namely isolate residents from each other _ because they have only three- and four-bed rooms, narrow hallways and one dining room.

Hall said the government needs to make some infrastructure money available to immediately upgrade the more than 400 homes in Canada in that category.

All provinces are turning their attention to reopening their economies, with several already into the first phases. Ontario and Alberta are set to announce reopening plans Thursday.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged Canadians to remain careful as things gradually reopen: staying home as much as possible and staying distant from others when they do have to go out.

“I know we’re all looking forward to it but we have to be vigilant,” he said in French.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault, whose province remains the hardest hit by the pandemic in Canada, reiterated his hope that people will wear non-medical masks when they go out in public, though he isn’t yet making it mandatory. Trudeau said it will be up to provinces to decide what kind of advice to offer on masks.

Tam agreed but said in provinces where the virus is still spreading in the community, wearing a non-medical mask can add another layer of protection, particularly in places where physical distancing is hard such as on public transit or while shopping in some stores.

“It is recommended that the general public wear non-medical masks or facial coverings in situations where you cannot maintain physical distancing of less than two metres,” Tam said.

She said there are discussions among provincial and federal public health officials about masks as the economy but she said wearing them might not be that useful in places where community transmission of the virus isn’t happening.

Public health advice on the use of face masks has changed markedly in Canada since COVID-19 was first detected here, with Tam and others early on recommending against their use, but shifting that thinking in recent weeks particularly as it became clear that carriers of the illness can spread COVID-19 even if they are not showing symptoms themselves.

There were initial fears that the public would use or hoard medical-grade masks that are badly needed for front-line health staff. In the last month, there has been an explosion in the production and sale of non-medical masks, both cloth and paper versions.

Government help for businesses continued Wednesday, with Trudeau offering up more details of the $962-million Regional Relief and Recovery Fund, which will be delivered through Canada’s six regional economic development agencies. It will target businesses that don’t qualify for other programs, said Trudeau.

Trudeau also announced Wednesday that students looking for help through the Canada Emergency Student Benefit can begin applying on Friday. The benefit offers up to $1,250 to individual students, and $2,000 for those with dependents or disabilities.

The government is asking students to apply, based on their months of birth, over four days starting May 15 so as not to overwhelm the system. Students can expect to receive their first payments in three to five business days if they are using direct deposit.

According to researchers with Johns Hopkins University, the global death toll from COVID-19 is more than 295,000 and more than 4.3 million people have been known to have been infected. The numbers are based on official and media reports. 

For a breakdown of B.C. COVID-19 numbers, visit the BC COVID-19 dashboard.

More to come

Watch Dr. Bonnie Henry and Minister Adrian Dix on May 13, 2020, below.

With files from Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press and CBC

Alexa HuffmanAlexa Huffman

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!