B.C. records 1 more death from COVID-19, 23 new cases since Saturday afternoon
VANCOUVER -- Health officials in British Columbia say there has been one more death from COVID-19 and 23 additional test-positive cases since their last update on Saturday.
Monday's announcement by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry brings B.C.'s death toll to 130 and the total number of cases confirmed since late January to 2,353.
Henry said nine of the new infections were recorded from Saturday to Sunday, and 14 were recorded from Sunday to Monday afternoon.
By comparison, Ontario announced another 308 cases and 35 deaths on Monday, while Quebec announced 748 cases and 85 deaths.
B.C.'s relatively small increase in cases was also greatly outpaced by the number of people who have recovered from the virus. Officials said there have been 1,719 recoveries in the province, an increase of 60 from Dr. Henry's previous briefing.
That leaves 504 active cases, with 66 serious enough to require hospitalization. Henry said 18 patients are in critical care or intensive are units – the lowest number since March 24.
There have been no additional outbreaks over the last two days, according to health officials, and the outbreak at Bylands Nursery in West Kelowna that began among a group of temporary foreign workers has been declared over.
"That is excellent news," Henry said. "We know how much we depend on the temporary foreign workers who come into British Columbia to support our agriculture sector. Their health and the health of our communities is paramount."
Officials are still battling outbreaks at 19 long-term care homes, assisted living facilities and acute care units in B.C. Another 19 outbreaks at such facilities have been declared over.
With the May long weekend fast approaching, health officials warned the progress B.C. has made is still fragile and could quickly be reversed if people begin bending the rules.
"In B.C., COVID-19 is not on the run – it's still here," Health Minister Adrian Dix said Monday. "It's still here in every health authority, looking for chances to take hold again, and we can't give it that chance."
While British Columbia is nearing the second phase of its pandemic response, which will allow people to "double their bubble" of personal contacts, officials urged the public to think carefully about how they proceed and what risks their behaviour will pose for any vulnerable people in their lives.
Some people apparently jumped the gun on Saturday and Sunday. In Vancouver, the park board reported a sudden "decrease in public compliance" with physical distancing rules, and rangers handed out more than 1,880 warnings to people who weren't following the rules.
But Dr. Henry said she believes most people are continuing to maintain a safe physical distance when they spend time outdoors.
"I think the vast majority of people are doing the right thing and taking this to heart, and I thank them because that's how we're going to get through this," she said.
"We can sometimes get caught up with the small minority of people who are maybe having too much fun and are disturbing those of us who are trying to keep a little bit separate."
Even when the rules are eventually relaxed, the provincial health officer said people who don't yet feel safe expanding their social circle should trust their instincts.
"I think it is important for all of us to not feel rushed – to make sure that we're doing what's best for our families, our communities, our businesses. A steady stream will be far more successful than a rushing river that can damage things in its path," she said.
Officials also urged people to continue with the personal precautions that have been credited with helping B.C. keep its COVID-19 caseload low – including hand washing, coughing into your elbow, and staying home while sick, without exception.
Watch an American Sign Language translation of the news conference on the provincial government's YouTube page.