4 more deaths, 34 new cases of COVID-19 in B.C.
VANCOUVER -- Four more people have died from COVID-19 in British Columbia, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced Wednesday.
The deaths all occurred among seniors in long-term care, and they bring the total death toll in the province to 109.
Henry also announced 34 new cases of the coronavirus in the province, bringing the total number of cases confirmed through testing in B.C. to 2,087.
Among people who have tested positive for the virus, 89 are currently in hospital, including 35 who are in critical care.
Hospitalizations continue to be down significantly from the high-point of 149 reached earlier in April.
Some 1,305 people who tested positive for COVID-19 are considered fully recovered, meaning there are 673 active cases of the virus in British Columbia.
Wednesday's update came just hours after B.C. Premier John Horgan announced that the province would publicly release details on its plans for reopening the province's economy next week.
Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix added a few more details about the thinking behind easing some of the restrictions that have helped limit the spread of the virus in B.C., while stressing that the province is still seeing community outbreaks of the virus and needs to be thoughtful in its reopening plans.
The provincial health officer said there are now 50 cases of COVID-19 associated with the outbreak at Superior Poultry in Coquitlam, which is one of four poultry processing plants in the province that have had positive tests for the coronavirus. There are 42 cases at the United Poultry Ltd. plant in Vancouver.
Henry said health authorities have expanded their testing strategy in hopes of detecting outbreaks more quickly and tracing the contacts of those who test positive. Anyone with even mild symptoms of COVID-19 can request a test, she said. At the same time, she cautioned against mass testing of the public.
"It's very important for us to understand, however, that random testing in the community of anybody with no symptoms is of very little value to us with the current test that we have," Henry said. "In fact, that type of testing leads to both false positives and false negatives, and for a variety of reasons, it's not a reliable mechanism to understand what's happening in our communities when it's used that way."
The provincial health officer said maintaining safe physical distance, washing hands regularly, and having a "very, very sensitive threshold for staying home and staying away from others if we're not feeling well," will do more to stop the spread of the virus than mass testing of members of the public who are not showing symptoms.
Henry also highlighted the province's efforts to avoid importing more cases of COVID-19 from outside of Canada, calling them an important part of the "next phase" of the province's response to the virus.
So far, B.C. has assessed more than 15,000 self-isolation plans from people who have returned to the province from abroad since the requirement that they develop such a plan was put in place on April 10. Some 4,000 of those plans required extra scrutiny, she said.
"Most people's were fine," Henry said. "Some of them needed assistance, and over 350 people needed additional support to be able to implement their isolation plans. In addition, we've had almost 100 people who we have provided accommodation to and supported to be able to enact their self-isolation plans."
In addition to those returning Canadians, the province has provided accommodation and support to more than 900 temporary foreign workers entering B.C. to work on farms in the province, Henry said. Of those, four workers who arrived on four different flights have tested positive for the coronavirus upon arrival, she said.
"It just speaks to us of how important it is to keep up these measures to support people to make sure that they can do what we need them to do," Henry said.