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

The B.C. Ministry of Health has reported 42 new cases of novel coronavirus in the province, bringing the total number cases in B.C. to 659 people.

In total, 339 of these cases are in the Vancouver Coastal Region, 218 in Fraser Health, 47 on Vancouver Island, 46 in Interior Health and 9 in Northern Health region.

There are now a total of 64 people who have been hospitalized with COVID-19, and 26 of those people are in intensive care.

One additional deaths has been reported after another resident at Lynn Valley Care Centre in north Vancouver died of COVID-19. This brings the death toll in B.C. to 14..

In good news, 183 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.

Dr. Bonnie Henry also addressed protection measures in place for health care workers on the front lines. In particular, there are now orders restricting visitors at all long term care facilities across B.C. in order to protect both residents and staff.

She also talked about personal protective equipment like masks and hand sanitizer.

While the province has had a number of supplies on order and a few shipments have arrived, authorities are now actively looking at alternative supplies and other ways of preserving protective equipment in anticipation of shortages.

Dr. Henry continues to reiterate the importance of maintaining social distancing – at least three to six feet between people – and self isolating by staying at home.

There remains a provincial health order prohibiting gatherings of 50 or more, but Henry also discourages people meeting in groups of 10 and 20 and even smaller groups of two or three in public spaces or at home.

“It’s very important to come together as a community and support each other, but we need to find virtual ways of doing that,” she adds.

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.

This includes a $2,000/month package for four months for all Canadians who have lost income due to COVID-19, and $500/month assistance package for renters in B.C..

The provincial government also announced the indefinite suspension of all in-person classes at K-12 schools in B.C., closure of all bars and restaurants, and a moratorium on evictions among other steps 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 464,683.

Over 20,900 people have died from the illness and 113,802 have made a full recovery.

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