(Dr. Bonnie Henry/B.C. Gov)

The B.C. Ministry of Health has reported 43 new cases of novel coronavirus in the province, bringing the total number cases in B.C. to 1,013 people.

In total, 476 of these cases are in the Vancouver Coastal Region, 348 in Fraser Health, 67 on Vancouver Island, 107 in Interior Health and 15 in Northern Health region.

There are now a total of 128 people who have been hospitalized with COVID-19, 61 of whom are in ICU.

Five additional deaths has been reported today, four in the Vancouver health region and one in Fraser Health region, bringing the death toll in B.C. to 24.

In good news, a total of 507 people have now recovered from novel coronavirus in B.C. This represents around 50% recovery rate.

There are now COVID-19 outbreaks at 19 long term care centres on the mainland, the hardest hit of which is the Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver.

“But vast majority of them have a single person, staff or resident, who was detected with this illness and we were able to put in outbreak measures so that others are not effected,” says Dr. Bonnie Henry.

According to the Ministry of Health, there are approximately 3,500 tests being conducted per day in British Columbia, and over 10,000 everyday across Canada.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says guidance is forthcoming either today or tomorrow for municipal bylaw officers authorized to issue fines for breaking provincial health officers.

Henry says while peace officers, police and RCMP, could also be called on to enforce these orders, this would be kept as a last resort.

“We are at a critical juncture…The next two weeks are a critical time. All or most of us are doing the right thing 100% of the time,” she reiterated.

According to health minister Adrian Dix, there are now 4,171 hospital beds available for COVID-19 patients across hospitals in B.C. 61% of acute care capacity and 53.8% critical care capacity have been filled.

Minister Dix says current availability is due largely to the cancellation of elective surgeries in the province and thanks those whose procedures have been delayed due to this outbreak for their patience.

Thus far, 35 doctors and 444 nurses have come out of retirement to assist health care workers during this pandemic.

530 health workers in private practice have volunteered to return to public health care system should their work be required.

For health care equipment, Dix specifically addressed the availability of ventilators stating that with the addition of 83 ventilators, the health care system in B.C. now have access to 1,355.

It remains unclear how long the restrictions in place to curb the spread of COVID-19 will remain in place.

“We are going to be in some form of having to monitor and prevent transmission of this virus until we have a vaccine or until enough of population is immune to it but that would be a very high number,” said Henry.

Based on observations of the situation in Hubei province China where the lockdown has just been lifted, Dr. Henry states that there is a possibility of further infection once the first wave of cases have recovered.

Health minister Adrian Dix confirms that there is zero chance that physical distancing and other orders in place will be lifted by the end of April. Whether there will be a reprieve in the summer months remains uncertain and depends on the actions of today.

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

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 850,914.

Over 41,600 people have died from the illness and 176,558 have made a full recovery.

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