'Together, we must stay apart,' says Henry, as B.C. reports 1 new death, 92 new COVID-19 cases 

click to enlarge Photograph By GOVERNMENT OF B.C.
  • Photograph By GOVERNMENT OF B.C.

Another person in the Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) region has died from COVID-19, as the provincial total rose to 884 Saturday as health officials reported 92 new cases.

To date, 17 people have died from the coronavirus in B.C.

There are now 81 patients in hospital, 52 of whom are in ICU, said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

Twelve long-term care homes in B.C. have at least one staff member or resident that has tested positive for B.C. Six of the care homes are in the VCH region, and six in Fraser Health. All of those care homes are under outbreak protocol.

There are 444 in the VCH region, 291 in Fraser Health, 60 in Island Health, 77 in Interior Health and 12 in the Northern Health region.

Of the total cases, 396 people have recovered, about 45 per cent of cases, said Henry.

The province's recovery rate is quite high, she said, for a couple of reasons. The first is that B.C. started getting more cases earlier on due to outbreaks in long-term care facilities, which infected young, healthy healthcare workers.

"So they had a milder disease that didn't last long," she said.

The province also changed its criteria, which has been agreed upon at the national level, on when to consider a person recovered from a mild form of COVID-19.

B.C. now considers people recovered who have not shown symptoms, such as fever, for 10 days, said Henry, which is why officials no longer need to have two negative lab tests.

The method has also been validated around the world, such as in Germany, Henry added.

B.C. at a 'critical point'

There has been "extraordinary goodwill and compassion and care" in B.C.'s communities, said Henry, which is what will help British Columbians get through the coronavirus epidemic.

The measures introduced over the last few weeks are designed to prevent transmission of more cases, she said.

"Any severe outbreak or cluster of cases is going to tip the scales for us," said Henry. "We're at that very critical point right now. We need to continue this action. Together, we must stay apart, we must be 100-per-cent committed until we flatten this curve. Now more than ever, we need you to keep this up."

Henry said she appreciates everything that British Columbians are doing right now to fight the spread of the coronavirus, saying those actions are what "is going keep us going."

On Friday, Henry presented the province's current epidemiological modelling of COVID-19, which shows how social, or physical, distancing measures may have helped lessen the spread of the virus in B.C.

But Henry cautioned that it's not possible to know when B.C. has reached the peak of its epidemic until after it has passed.

"We don't know the peak until we are looking back at it," she said. "So, none of this (modelling) is able to let us know if we've reached the peak or not. We need to continue to monitor and follow everything on a daily basis to see if we are flattening that curve. But really, the only way to tell is in retrospect."

The modelling presented Friday, said Dix, reflect the province's "absolute determination" to prepare for the worst possible scenarios.

"We have to of course prepare for the worst," said Dix. "Not because we think the worst will happen, but because we have to be prepared for our acute care system. We have to be there for our doctors and nurses and our healthcare workers."

Dix also reiterated the need for British Columbians to be "all-in" in following the physical distancing measures put in place by Henry.

Provincial closures need to be strategic

Henry addressed B.C.'s response to COVID-19, noting she many have said the province should lockdown, as is happening in other places such as New York or Italy.

"We have talked a number of times about how we're doing things here in British Columbia, and how it's very similar to what others are calling a lockdown," said Henry. "We have done things more strategically, or we tried to do it in a very thoughtful, purposeful way, rather than having blanket restrictions on certain things."

Henry cited the example of school closures, and said the province needed to ensure it had supports in place for essential workers, such as people who work in health care or in grocery stores.

"We need to have the ability to care for their children," she said. "And that's what our school districts are working on."

Here are the numbers for Saturday March 28, with numbers for March 27 in brackets:

New - 92 (67)

Total - 884 (792)

Total deaths - 17 (16)

Hospitalized - 81 (73)

Recovered - 396 (275)

Here are the number of new cases over the last eight days:

March 28, 92

March 27, 67

March 26, 66

March 25, 42

March 24, 78

March 23, 67

March 22, 48

March 21, 76

- with files from Nelson Bennett/ BIV

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