B.C. says everyone with COVID-19 symptoms can be tested as cases in Island Health region pass 100

B.C. says everyone with COVID-19 symptoms can be tested as cases in Island Health region pass 100
Mike McArthur/CBC
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix give their daily COVID-19 update in Victoria on Monday.

B.C. health officials say there are now over 100 cases of COVID-19 (including recoveries) recorded in the Island Health region.

As of April 20, 2020, 102 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Island Health over a 48 hour period.  On Saturday morning, there had been 97 cases reported.

Of the 102 cases, 71 have recovered, six are in hospital and two are in ICU. Three people have died in the health authority.

The news of over 100 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Island Health comes as Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, announced anyone with COVID-19 symptoms can now get tested. But she also said not everyone will need to be tested and the test is not necessarily effective for people with no symptoms.

The testing will be an attempt to avoid a spike in disease transmission through the community.

Henry reported 52 new cases of COVID-19 over a 48-hour period, with five additional deaths, on Monday. The provincial COVID-19 total is now at 1,699. there are 102 cases in Island Health, 700 in Vancouver Coastal Health, 705 in Fraser Health, 153 in Interior Health and 39 in Northern Health.

There is also one new long-term care facility outbreak: Chartwell Willow in Maple Ridge. And there has been transmission associated with the Kearl Lake oilsands project in northern Alberta, with seven people in B.C. connected to the project testing positive. Henry said anyone who has come back from that camp needs to self-isolate immediately for 14 days.

Outbreaks are still active at 20 long-term care homes in B.C., where 307 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19, as well as Bylands Nurseries in West Kelowna. Seventy-five have now tested positive at Mission Institution, including 64 inmates of the federal prison.

Henry said 104 people are now in hospital, with 49 in critical care. A total of 1,039 test positive cases that have recovered.

She once again repeated Monday that British Columbians should not expect restrictions to even start to ease until at least mid-May.

“Our new normal is going to be a modification of the things we have had in place for the past few months,” Henry said, adding changes would be gradual with an emphasis on physical distancing.

Henry acknowledged the toll the restrictions have taken on people’s finances and personal lives.

But she said the relative success B.C. has had in keeping the pandemic under control should not be taken as a sign that the province has overreacted.

“We have averted a major crisis in B.C., but that’s because people have done what we’ve asked them to do,” Henry said.

Health Minister Adrian Dix addressed B.C.’s dwindling supply of personal protective equipment needed to keep front-line workers safe from infection at Monday’s briefing.

Dix said B.C. is approaching the point when it will be necessary to use alternative equipment, but he said those alternatives will be safe and effective.

He also reiterated that B.C.’s hospitals are safe, and anyone who needs urgent medical attention should not hesitate to call 911 or visit the emergency room.

The B.C. government said Monday is moving to get faster access to care for those living in rural, remote and Indigenous communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Steps to improve health-care services include bringing in 55 new ambulances, five more fixed-wing planes or helicopters and housing options that will help people self-isolate in their home communities.

The government says its also bringing in new and faster virus testing technology – taking less than 45 minutes to complete – in an attempt to quickly stop the spread of the virus.

Indigenous Relations Minister Scott Fraser says Indigenous communities have been hit hard in past pandemics and elders, in particular, as keepers of knowledge and language, must be protected.

For more on the latest COVID-19 numbers in B.C., visit the BC Centre for Disease Control dashboard. 

Researchers with Johns Hopkins University said globally, there are over 2.4 million COVID-19 cases and over 169,000 deaths. 

Watch the April 20, 2020 news conference below:

More to come

With files from The Canadian Press and CBC


Alexa HuffmanAlexa Huffman

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