(Dr. Bonnie Henry/Province of British Columbia - Flickr)

The B.C. Ministry of Health has reported 145 new cases of novel coronavirus in the province, bringing the total number cases in B.C. to 617 people.

Out of these cases, 67 were reported on March 23rd and 78 positive cases were found in the past 24 hours.

In total, 330 of these cases are in the Vancouver Coastal Region, 194 in Fraser Health, 44 on Vancouver Island, 41 in Interior Health and 9 in Northern Health region.

There are now a total of 59 people who have been hospitalized with COVID-19, and 23 of those people are in intensive care.

No new deaths have been reported, meaning the death toll in B.C. remains at 13.

In good news, 173 people have now recovered from novel coronavirus in B.C., as many of them had a mild form of the illness and the criteria that allowed them to come out of isolation has been met.

This represents 28% of total cases in the province. According to provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, reports from worldwide appear to show that once someone recovers from COVID-19, they have immunity from the virus for at least the next few weeks to months.

The largest centre of the outbreak in B.C. has been at the Lynn Valley Care Centre in Vancouver where 42 residents and 21 staff members were affected.

“This fact reinforces all the work we need to do to protect our elders and vulnerable populations,” says Henry.

Dr. Henry also clarifies that testing is focused on identifying cases among those for whom authorities do not know the source of transmission.

The province has conducted approximately 30,000 COVID-19 tests at this time.

“No part of our province is immune. Everyone has to take the steps that Dr. Henry has recommended to prepare and avoid the spread of COVID-19,” says Health Minister Adrian Dix.

Dix states that more beds have been added to the health care system in B.C. to relieve hospitals. The current occupancy rate is at 66%, and critical care occupancy is at 55.3% across B.C. hospitals.

“We must make the effort now so those efforts will pay off. The battle that we need to wage to defeat the virus demands that we continue to work together as a community, says Dix.

See all the latest updates about the global COVID-19 pandemic on Vancouver Island

The federal government recently announced an $82 billion assistance package for Canadians and businesses struggling financially during the global pandemic. This was followed by a $5 billion relief package announced by the B.C. provincial government.

The provincial government also announced the indefinite suspension of all in-person classes at K-12 schools in B.C., and closure of all bars and restaurants, among other measures to enforce social distancing measures.

Canada has tightened its borders and is denying entry to people who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents in Canada.

U.S. citizens are no longer an exception to this rule, and non-essential travel between U.S. and Canada has been temporarily banned as of March 21st. Moreover international flights have now been restricted to international airports in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and Calgary.

The BCCDC has set up a 2019 novel coronavirus telephone information line at 1-833-784-4397 for those who have further questions about this disease.

Anyone concerned that they may have been exposed to, or are experiencing symptoms of the novel coronavirus, should contact their primary care provider, local public health office, or call 8-1-1.

The Province has also created the 1-888-COVID-19  line to connect British Columbians needing non-medical information about the coronavirus pandemic.

As of the time of publication, the total number of COVID-19 patients worldwide has risen to 417,663.

Over 18,600 people have died from the illness and 108,302 have made a full recovery.

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