B.C. records first 'community death' linked to COVID-19, along with 86 new cases
VANCOUVER -- British Columbia has confirmed its first "community death" related to the novel coronavirus, which has infected another 86 people since Saturday afternoon.
Coroners have determined that North Vancouver dentist Dr. Denis Vincent, who died at home over the weekend of March 21, succumbed to COVID-19. That makes him the first person to die from the virus outside hospital.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said there have also been two additional deaths since her last COVID-19 briefing two days ago, bringing B.C.'s death toll to 19.
There have now been 970 infections recorded across the province, including 16 that were discovered from Saturday to Sunday and another 70 there were discovered from Sunday to Monday.
But Dr. Henry stressed that the number of recoveries is continuing to climb as well, noting that 48 per cent of all people infected in B.C. so far have been cleared of the virus.
"So 469 people have been released from isolation, including over 70 who were in hospital or ICU over the last few weeks," Henry said.
"I think that's really a testament to the importance of people being in hospital at the right time, being ventilated at the right time if they need it."
While that news is promising, particularly in light of outbreak modelling that provincial health officials released last week, Henry urged the public not to become complacent, cautioning that the province is in a "critical juncture" in the fight against the disease.
"We're in our second incubation period," she said. "We are not through the storm yet. We have not yet reached our peak. We have more people every day who are in hospital and are in our intensive care units, so we need to continue to do all we can across government, across our health system and in our community."
The provincial health officer also tried once again to clarify the meaning of social distancing, as some people continue to gather with friends under the apparent misunderstanding that they are following advice as long as they keep their numbers below 50 and try to maintain physical distance from one another.
"It doesn't mean that you can have 49 people at a house party. Those are the situations that cause this virus to spread, and it's going to spread to the people who are closest to us," she said.
"I need people to understand that small groups inside are a risk. Small groups and large groups outside are still a risk. We need to maintain those physical distances, particularly in the coming weeks, so that we can break those chains of transmission in our communities."
The next few weeks will reveal whether hospitals continue to see a "trickle" of patients or a dramatic influx that could put a much bigger strain on the available resources.
There are currently 106 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in B.C., including 60 who are in intensive care. Officials have prepared for the possibility of a huge increase in cases, freeing up more than 4,200 acute care beds across the province.
Of the 970 infections recorded so far, 472 have been in the Vancouver Coastal Health Region, followed by 323 in the Fraser Health region, 94 in the Interior Health region, 67 in the Island Health region and 14 in the Northern Health region.
An American Sign Language translation of today's news conference is available on the province's Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/BCProvincialGovernment/