Vancouver News | Local Breaking | CTV News Vancouver
Stay separated during the holidays, B.C. officials urge following 4 more COVID-19 deaths
VANCOUVER -- Health officials in British Columbia are urging people of different faiths to celebrate their upcoming religious holidays remotely as the death toll from COVID-19 continues to climb.
At their daily virus briefing on Tuesday, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix announced four more people have died from COVID-19 and there have been another 25 test-positive cases.
That brings the province's death toll to 43 and the overall number of infections recorded since January to 1,291.
Dix offered condolences to the family and friends of the latest victims, acknowledging how challenging it can be to lose a loved one under the government's rigid physical distancing rules.
"We're not able to reach out in the kinds of ways to one another and express our grief in the kinds of ways we usually do," he said. "I want you to know that Dr. Henry, myself, the premier, everyone involved in this effort at every level sees your grief and feels your grief."
While the numbers also contained some encouraging news – the 25 new test-positive cases represents the smallest increase seen since March 29 – health officials appeared worried that the various upcoming religious celebrations could reverse the province's progress.
Passover, Easter, Vaisakhi and Ramadan are all on the horizon, and Henry stressed that people must continue observing physical distancing as much as possible to prevent the spread of the virus.
"Many of us – millions around the world of many faiths – will be celebrating these major religious holidays. And we'll be celebrating collectively around the world in ways we've never done before in many cases," she sad.
Health officials spoke with a number of faith leaders from across B.C. on Tuesday, and said they were encouraged by how many are embracing virtual alternatives to observing the holidays in person.
Henry urged people to follow suit by avoiding church gatherings and even small personal gatherings that involve guests from different households.
"Right now, when we know that this virus continues to circulate in our communities, coming together of even small groups can be very problematic," she said.
To people who insist on meeting in small groups, Henry said it's crucial to maintain physical distances, clean your hands regularly and cover your mouth when you cough. People who suspect they are sick should stay home altogether to avoid exposing the virus to others, she added.
The new cases announced Tuesday were offset by 22 new recoveries, which bring the provincial total to 805 people who have been fully cleared of the virus.
Hospitalizations also decreased slightly, to 138 from 140, as did the number of people being treated in intensive care units for severe COVID-19 infections. There are now 66 people in intensive care, down six from Monday.
Looking for an American Sign Language translation of the news conference? Watch it live on the provincial government's YouTube page.