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Officials confirm another 45 COVID-19 cases in B.C.
VANCOUVER -- Health officials have announced 45 new cases of COVID-19 in British Columbia, bringing the provincial total to 231.
Among the new cases announced is a resident of Haro Park Centre, a long term care home in Vancouver that marks the third seniors' facility in the region to be affected by the virus.
Some 13 people are in hospital with the novel coronavirus in B.C., and seven of those are in intensive care, said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix in their daily briefing on the virus Wednesday.
No additional deaths have been reported.
Dix became visibly emotional while describing the increasing challenges posed by the pandemic, and the need for people to listen to health officials’ advice in order to protect vulnerable members of the community.
“We are all in this together. We count on each other to take the appropriate precautions to keep one another safe,” the minister said.
“We’re learning how much we mean to one another – every single person watching and every single person in this room and all of the other rooms in B.C. It's that shared experience, that shared responsibility that has to continue to drive us.”
Dix said he believes most British Columbians have taken the provincial recommendations seriously and reacted appropriately to the threat of COVID-19. To those who have been less concerned or less quick to adopt recommendations about avoiding gatherings and maintaining social distancing, the minister's message was: "It's not too late."
More than half of B.C.'s cases of COVID-19 are located in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, which includes the City of Vancouver and some of its metro area, as well as the communities of Squamish and Whistler.
There are 144 people with COVID-19 in the VCH region. Another 58 cases are located in the Fraser Health region, which covers Vancouver's eastern suburbs and communities as far east as Hope B.C.
There are also 16 cases in the Island Health region, which includes Vancouver Island, nine in the Interior Health region, which includes the cities of Kelowna and Kamloops, and four in the Northern Health region, which covers the rest of the province.
On Tuesday, B.C. declared a public health emergency after reporting three more deaths due to the novel coronavirus and 83 additional positive cases.
Henry said declaring a public health emergency allows her to take action more swiftly.
The province has already banned gatherings of more than 50 people, closed public schools from kindergarten to Grade 12 indefinitely, and postponed non-urgent surgeries in an attempt to curtail the spread of the virus and ensure health care resources are available when needed most. As well, bars and clubs have been temporarily shut down.
On Wednesday, Henry described these measures as a "firewall" against the virus. Asked how long they will need to be in place - how long it will take before people can return to their normal lives - the doctor suggested things were changing too rapidly to provide a clear timeline.
Henry said other coronaviruses tend to recede over the warmer summer months, and she's hopeful COVID-19 will respond similarly, but also warned it's possible the virus would then return with the next flu season.
"It's unclear when we'll be back to normal," the provincial health officer said. "I do believe that if we do everything we can right now, we will find a period of time when we can start getting back to our life and, in a different way, start being socially connected. I think we will fundamentally change some of the ways we are doing things until we have a vaccine, until we have an effective treatment for this."
Also on Wednesday, the federal government announced a mutual agreement between Canada and the U.S. to prohibit non-essential travel between the two countries.
"In both our countries we're encouraging people to stay home," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at a news conference.
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Alyse Kotyk and Andrew Weichel