(Dr. Bonnie Henry and Adrian Dix/Province of B.C.)

The B.C. Ministry of Health has reported 66 new cases of novel coronavirus in the province, bringing the total number cases in B.C. to 725 people.

In total, 359 of these cases are in the Vancouver Coastal Region, 241 in Fraser Health, 52 on Vancouver Island, 62 in Interior Health and 11 in Northern Health region.

There are now a total of 66 people who have been hospitalized with COVID-19, and 26 of those people are in intensive care.

No additional deaths have been reported today, meaning the death toll in B.C. remains at 14.

In good news, a total of 186 people have now recovered from novel coronavirus in B.C.

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

Yesterday, Dr. Bonnie Henry enacted a new public health order that  enables health sector workers to remain at one facility for the duration of the pandemic, including long term care, assisted living, extended, and acute care. This move decreases the risk of transmission between facilities.

According to Minister of Health there were 5,070 calls to 8-1-1 answered yesterday, with an average wait time of 5.3 minutes.

Dix also thanked the 26 doctors and 248 nurses who have come out of retirement to assist health care workers on the front lines of this pandemic.

He also addressed concerns about the supply of personal protective equipment (PPEs) for health care workers, stating that while there is a huge international demand for these products, B.C. is conserving and micromanaging their existing inventory to meet needs.

On Friday morning, Minister Dix and Dr. Bonnie Henry will be briefing the media and public on modelling work that the ministry has been doing to predict and prepare for the worst case scenarios in British Columbia.

Earlier today, the province launched a series of new orders, including banning the resale of essential goods and giving municipal bylaw officers the power to fine or arrest people found violating Dr. Bonnie Henry’s provincial health orders to maintain social distancing, gatherings of 50 or more people, and for businesses that have not yet closed.

The Health Ministry has also launched a 2-1-1 phone line that connects volunteers and services with seniors who require assistance during this pandemic.

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.