B.C.'s top doctor announces 3 more deaths from COVID-19, capping province's deadliest week
VANCOUVER -- Three more British Columbians have died from the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced Saturday.
The deaths cap off the deadliest week of the pandemic so far in B.C., with more than a dozen of the province's now 38 total deaths occurring since Wednesday.
Henry also announced another outbreak at a long-term care facility in the Lower Mainland, bringing the total number of such care homes with outbreaks in the province to 23.
The provincial health officer reiterated what she said Friday about outbreaks in seniors' care, noting that most of the facilities where the virus has been detected have had just one case.
"This is an area of particular focus that we have been working on," Henry said. "For most of these outbreaks, catching it early has made a huge difference."
Additionally, 29 more people in B.C. have now tested positive for the virus, bringing the provincial total to 1,203.
Of those, 149 are currently in hospital, with 68 in critical care.
The relatively small number of new cases and relatively stable number of hospitalizations over the last few days have prompted questions for Henry at her daily updates about whether the many aggressive public health measures put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus have been working.
Earlier in the week, Henry described the smaller numbers as "our flattening of our curve." On Saturday, she reiterated that message, but also repeated her warning that the public must remain committed to stopping the transmission of the virus.
"I don't think I'm ready to say anything is a win yet, but every day that we have been bending that curve is a good thing," Henry said. "There are many things that are out of our control that can happen, and this is why we're making such a big deal about people who are coming into the country right now, because we are holding our own here right now."
Regarding those returning to Canada from abroad, the provincial health officer called on B.C. residents to help support friends or family members who are subject to the mandatory 14-day self-isolation period imposed by the federal government.
"If you have a loved one, a community member who's coming home, do what you need to do to support them," Henry said.
"That may mean buying groceries for them and dropping them off, making sure that they have a way to get home from the airport without taking public transit, having frequent virtual visits. We need, as a community, to support people to do this … We need to be united, all of us, in stopping the transmission of this virus now."
The majority of B.C.'s confirmed cases of COVID-19 continue to be located in the Lower Mainland, with 554 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region and 424 in the Fraser Health region.
Between them, those two health authorities cover all of Metro Vancouver and surrounding communities in the Fraser Valley and on the Sea-to-Sky corridor.
Elsewhere in the province, there are 128 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Interior Health region, 76 in Island Health and 21 in Northern Health.
These numbers reflect the total number of people who have tested positive for the virus in each region. Modelling of the pandemic that Henry has released previously suggests that the number of people infected with the virus is higher than the number of positive tests.
A total of 704 people who have tested positive for the virus in B.C. are now considered fully recovered.
An American Sign Language translation of today's news conference is available on the provincial government's YouTube page.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.