B.C. reports 12 new COVID-19 cases, 4 deaths over 48 hours

B.C. reports 12 new COVID-19 cases, 4 deaths over 48 hours
Province of BC
Chief Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides an update on COVID-19 on May 23, 2020.

British Columbia health officials have recorded 12 new cases of COVID-19 since the last update on Saturday.

Five new cases were reported between Saturday and Sunday, followed by seven new cases between Sunday and Monday.

There have been four more deaths, bringing the COVID-19 death toll in B.C. to 161. All of the deaths were in long-term care at Langley Lodge. Henry said Monday the outbreak is “challenging” one, with one of the most affected units being a dementia unit.

“We know that it’s incredibly challenging when people have dementia to be able to ensure that they’re wearing a mask, that they’re staying in their rooms, things like that.”

The provincial COVID-19 total is now 2,530. Of those cases, 267 are active cases and 2,102 people have recovered.

There have now been 894 COVID-19 cases in Vancouver Coastal Health, 1,253 in Fraser Health, 127 in Island Health (no change from May 23, 2020), 194 in Interior Health and 62 in Northern Health.

There are 37 (two fewer than May 23) COVID-19 positive cases in hospital, with seven in intensive care. One of the hospitalizations is in Island Health.

There are no new community outbreaks.

Henry said there has been significant progress in the province as new cases continue to track low.

“We are moving forward,” Henry said. “Our success so far, and our ability to ease restrictions relies on our shared commitment and effort and we need that to continue.”

Henry said this coming week will be closely monitored and new data will be shared next week to help understand where B.C. stands in terms of its reopening.

Henry said as individuals, British Columbians are doing the right things, following rules about safe social interactions and taking precautions.

“I really do take that as a positive sign,” she said. “People are doing the right things.”

Henry said the province continues to track the outbreak at Nature’s Touch frozen fruit processing plant in Abbotsford. She added there is no risk associated with the food coming from the plant.

“The food supply is safe and continues to be safe, including from facilities where there have been outbreaks,” Henry said. She added there have been no reported cases of COVID-19 being transmitted through food or food packaging.

And B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix thanked everyone in B.C. following the province’s first weekend under Phase 2 of reopening.

“Our first weekend of renewed social contacts went well,” Dix said.

Henry was asked on Monday how many cases B.C. would need to see before restrictions are put back in place.

“My intent is to not add more restrictions back on,” Henry said.

“There’s a whole variety of indicators we’re looking at but there’s no set number.”

Henry also commented on the provincial health officer order restricting mass gatherings to no more than 50 individuals remains in place. The order was amended last Friday to also include no more than 50 vehicles for outdoor drive-in events, with a restriction on the sale of refreshments.

Anyone attending these events must stay in their cars unless they have to go to washrooms, which must be serviced with running water for proper hand hygiene.

“We have a less risky environment when we are in cars, and yes you can have more than one person in a car,” Henry said.

“But it becomes very challenging when you have a large number of vehicles.”

Earlier Monday, the B.C. government website for British Columbia residents booking provincial campsites was overwhelmed on Monday, prompting an apology from the Ministry of Environment.

The ministry says in a statement that the last time the site was busy there were 1,100 reservations in one day, but in the first half hour of opening Monday about 800 reservations were booked.

It says 50,000 people were online at opening trying to access the system.

While government staff made efforts to be ready for additional demands, it says the 35,000 reservations made before lunch exceeded expectations.

The ministry thanks all those who tried to book a site for their patience and apologizes to those who were unable to access the system.

The new reservations are only available to B.C. residents, giving locals camping opportunities close to home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

And Dix said he does not see the border with the United States opening anytime soon. Border restrictions have been extended by the federal government to June 21.

According to researchers with Johns Hopkins University, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases globally is more than 5.4 million, with more than 344,000 deaths. The numbers are taken from official and media reports. 

Watch Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix on May 25, 2020. 

With files from The Canadian Press and CBC

Alexa HuffmanAlexa Huffman

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