B.C. in for ‘unusual’ summer where connections must expand without letting virus take hold, says top doctor

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B.C. in for 'unusual' summer where connections must expand without letting virus take hold, says top doctor

The highlights: 

  • 15 more people have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • Two more people have died in the past 24 hours.
  • There have been a total of 2,330 cases.
  • 129 people have died from the disease since the pandemic began.
  • 69 people are in hospital,  21 in intensive care.
  • 1,659 people have recovered.
  • There are no new community outbreaks in B.C.
  • There are 21 active outbreaks in long-term care homes. Nineteen outbreaks in those facilities have been declared over.

B.C. Provincial Health Officer  Dr. Bonnie Henry announced 15 new coronavirus cases in the province on Saturday, bringing the current total to 2,330.

As B.C. approaches the long weekend, when some restrictions on businesses and social interactions could start to ease, Henry stressed the importance of opening social bubbles with caution and care.

“We have to find that sweet spot … where we have more connections but not too many where we allow this virus to take off again,” she said in her daily briefing.

“This summer is going to be the most unusual summer we have had in my lifetime, and for many of us here, one that we have never seen before.”

Henry said most, but not all, of the new cases announced throughout the week are connected to ongoing outbreaks, causing concern that there is still some community spread in the province.

“There have been a number every day this week that have risen in the community where we have not initially found their links. That’s why we are still in that phase where we still need to be so careful … we have community linked cases that we don’t yet know where they got it,” she said.

Watch Dr. Bonnie Henry’s message about safely marking Mother’s Day:

Dr. Bonnie Henry encouraged families to celebrate Mother’s Day outdoors and to stay two metres apart if they aren’t part of the same household. 1:15

So far, 1,659 people in B.C. have recovered, representing 71 per cent of the people in the province diagnosed with COVID-19.

The increase in recoveries means there is the lowest number of active cases in the province since April 16.

Two new deaths were announced in B.C. on Saturday, both of them in long-term care homes in the Vancouver Coastal Health authority.

Henry said there are no new community outbreaks in B.C., but that 21 outbreaks remain active in long-term care homes across the province. Nineteen outbreaks in those facilities have been declared over.

In advance of Mother’s Day, Henry encouraged B.C. residents to honour their mothers by keeping them safe. She said if your mother is not part of your immediate household, it’s crucial to maintain physical distance, and meet in the outdoors.

Earlier in the week, officials announced some details of B.C.’s gradual plan to reopen, saying that gatherings of two to six people will be permitted in time for the long weekend, should the current trend in cases continue.

But Henry re-iterated that B.C. will not be returning to the levels of socializing enjoyed in December.

“The risks are still here in our communities, the risks from this virus are still high,” she said.

“Eventually we will be able to add more people, but distance between people is still important to keep in place.”

Henry said that as the province opens up, she will be watching for warning signs of community transmission — for example, a spike in cases that appears unconnected to known community outbreaks. She said the province will also be ramping up contact tracing capacity and rapid testing across the province.

“If we start to see unlinked cases in communities geographically spread out throughout the province, then those are warnings signs that there’s more transmission than we’ve been detecting,” she said.

If you have a COVID-19-related story we should pursue that affects British Columbians, please email us at [email protected]

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