Three more people have died of the novel coronavirus in British Columbia, health officials announced Saturday, while the small drop in hospital-bound cases has been erased since Friday.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry also reported 29 new lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the province’s total to 1,203 cases. The increase was the lowest B.C. has seen in weeks, but Henry said she’s not claiming victory yet.
“I don’t think I’ ready to say anything is a ‘win’ yet, but every day that we have been bending that curve is a good thing,” she said, as she continued to express worry over returning travellers and the introduction of cases into more seniors’ homes.
“This could take a turn for the worse for us in the coming week, in particular, but I’m heartened that we’re seeing that decrease in acceleration.”
Thirty-eight people have now died of COVID-19 in B.C.
Of the total confirmed cases, 149 are in hospital, up three from Friday, while four more people have been moved into intensive care for a total of 68 cases.
That comes after the totals of both hospital stays and ICU cases fell by the same numbers between Thursday and Friday, which Henry had said gave her “a glimmer of hope.”
However, 704 people have now recovered from the disease, continuing to account for more than half of all confirmed cases in B.C.
Henry said outbreaks have now been identified at 23 long-term care facilities across the province, after a case was reported at a facility in the Fraser Health region. The majority of the province’s deaths from coronavirus have been linked to at least two seniors’ homes.
The health officer said the majority of those outbreaks have been limited to a single case, thanks to a priority in testing across the care home sector.
Henry also stressed that returning travellers must continue to self-isolate for 14 days as soon as they arrive in B.C., citing federal health orders, and urged friends and families of those travellers to help support them by buying groceries and staying connected virtually.
New numbers suggest B.C. is making progress in fight against COVID-19 pandemic
“The risk remains very high for us right now in British Columbia,” she said. “We are in the thick of it, and we must hold our line.
“This is our time to be unwavering in our commitment to keep our firewall strong, to keep our physical distance between us … but to also ensure we’re taking those measures to keep socially connected.”
B.C.-led research efforts
Henry also took time to highlight research being conducted within B.C. to help with the worldwide search for a cure and other solutions to the pandemic.
She announced the formation of a COVID-19 strategic research advisory committee, which will facilitate those research initiatives with help from scientists and experts across the province.
The committee will include Henry’s predecessor Dr. Perry Kendall, who retired as B.C.’s provincial health officer in 2018.
Coronavirus around the world: April 4, 2020
B.C. researchers are involved in at least 25 initiatives around the world that are working to develop a vaccine, Henry said.
She said the committee’s work will also help inform future modelling data that will be released in the days and weeks ahead, and is evaluating the impact of social media and public health orders in curbing the spread of COVID-19.
“This is a really important part of our toolkit to help us get through this first wave of COVID-19, and to help ensure we know what to do and how to do it as this pandemic progresses,” she said.
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