The B.C. Ministry of Health has reported 86 new cases of novel coronavirus in the province over the past 48 hours, bringing the total number cases in B.C. to 970 people.
In total, 472 of these cases are in the Vancouver Coastal Region, 323 in Fraser Health, 67 on Vancouver Island, 94 in Interior Health and 14 in Northern Health region.
There are now a total of 106 people who have been hospitalized with COVID-19, 60 of whom are in ICU.
Two additional deaths has been reported today in the Vancouver health region bringing the death toll in B.C. to 19.
One of the people who died today is the province’s first community death, meaning they were not a care home resident and contracted COVID-19 through community transmission.
Due to privacy concerns, health authorities will not be releasing the identity or any further information about this person.
In good news, a total of 469 people have now recovered from novel coronavirus in B.C. This represents a 48% recovery rate and includes over 70 people who were in hospital or ICU.
Dr. Henry stated that most of the people in hospital and all of the people who have died from COVID-19 are older in terms of demographics. Fewer than 5% of cases are in people under the age of 19, including a short hospitalization for a child who is no longer in the hospital.
There are now COVID-19 outbreaks at 13 long term care centres on the mainland, the hardest hit of which is the Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver.
As of today, the province has 19 hospitals that are primary sites equipped to deal with COVID-19 cases. On Vancouver Island, they are Royal Jubilee Hospital, Victoria General Hospital, and Nanaimo Regional General Hospital.
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.
In an effort to protect hospitals from further transmission risks, the province is suspending paid parking for all patients, staff, and visitors at all hospitals sites, thereby making parking free.
This includes the suspension of parking fees that come out of staff payroll.
As of today, Health minister Adrian Dix says there are 4,233 vacant acute care beds across hospitals as a result of measures taken to prepare the province’s health care system. Ast the moment, the current occupancy for hospital beds is 60.6% and 53.7% occupancy for acute care beds.
The minister also pointed out that global demand for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has created a situation where previous suppliers are struggling to supply bulk orders.
However shipments of PPEs continue to arrive in B.C., including a shipment of one million surgical masks today.
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.
Trudeau also announced a 75% wage subsidy for small and medium sized businesses and a new Canada Emergency Business Account which will allow banks to offer $40,000 loans to businesses, interest-free for the first year.
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 772,226.
Over 37,000 people have died from the illness and 160,243 have made a full recovery.