12 new cases, 3 more deaths from COVID-19 in B.C.
VANCOUVER -- Health officials in B.C. announced 12 new cases and three more deaths from COVID-19 have been recorded over the last 24 hours.
There have now been 2,479 test-positive cases and 152 deaths from the virus in B.C.
Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the updated numbers during their briefing from Victoria Thursday.
Henry announced one additional community outbreak has been detected at the Matsqui Institution, with one COVID-19 case identified at the facility.
On a positive note, Henry announced the outbreak at the United Poultry plant in Vancouver has been declared over. The facility was shut down after an outbreak was declared in April.
No new outbreaks were detected at long-term care homes, but there continue to be 14 active outbreaks in long-term care and three in acute care facilities.
There are now 307 active cases of COVID-19 in B.C., and among those patients, 43 are hospitalized with eight in critical care or ICU.
Two of the people who died over the last 24 hours were residents of long-term care facilities in the Fraser Health region, and the third lived in the Vancouver Coastal Health area. The number of patients considered to be fully recovered from the virus has risen to 2,020.
B.C. entered Phase 2 of its reopening plan on Tuesday with some businesses opening their doors again with extensive safety precautions in place to help prevent the spread of the virus.
"We need to be slow and thoughtful as we move through this," Henry said, adding that "kinks" would be worked out over the coming weeks as businesses gradually reopen.
"We need to continue to do all we can to protect our families and our communities across our province," she said.
Henry continued to emphasize the importance of staying home and away from others if sick, regular hand-washing, cleaning and disinfecting common surfaces, as well as keeping groups small.
She added that wearing a non-medical cloth mask can act as an additional protective measure in some circumstances but said it's unlikely wearing one would become mandatory.
"We're encouraging people as a mark of respect, as a mark of politeness and paying attention to the welfare of others," she said. "With respect to masks, I don't expect us to make them a requirement in any settings in B.C."
She added that not everyone has the ability or will want to wear a mask.
Dix added that 2,586 scheduled or non-urgent surgeries had been booked this week as the province tries to deal with a massive backlog of procedures that were delayed because of the pandemic. However, he warned that this progress could be delayed depending on what happens with the virus.
"A second wave of COVID-19 is very likely given the history of pandemics," Dix said. "We expect to complete all lost surgeries but let's make no mistake about it—surgery renewal will be dictated by future events, such as the resurgence of COVID-19 and potential for a second wave."
Dix added that from March 16 to May 17, 23,386 emergency and scheduled surgeries were completed in the province, which he described as "an extraordinary achievement."
Henry emphasized the importance of keeping the number of cases low over the summer so that once the flu season returns in the fall, B.C. isn't already dealing with a lot of community spread.
"Even if we're able to control it well during the summer, the chances are that just the climactic conditions will naturally allow it to increase in prevalence during the fall," she said.
Henry added that the virus hasn't disappeared and still has the potential to spread quickly, which is why the province is taking a cautious approach to reopening.
"I would really like to think that's not going to happen, but if we look historically at all of the pandemics that we have historical data about, this is what has happened," she said. "Sometimes we've seen a bigger wave in the second wave, sometimes it's been smaller. So we don't know what that's going to look like."
Friday's update from health officials will be released around 3 p.m. in a written statement instead of a live press conference.
Watch an American Sign Language translation of the news conference on the provincial government's YouTube page.