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

The B.C. Ministry of Health has reported 92 new cases of novel coronavirus in the province, bringing the total number cases in B.C. to 884 people.

In total, 444 of these cases are in the Vancouver Coastal Region, 291 in Fraser Health, 60 on Vancouver Island, 77 in Interior Health and 12 in Northern Health region.

There are now a total of 81 people who have been hospitalized with COVID-19, 52 of whom are in ICU.

According to Dr. Bonnie Henry, the jump in the number of ICU patients is due to the fact that doctors have observed that putting COVID-19 patients in ICU on a ventilator during the early stages leads to a faster recovery.

One additional death has been reported today in the Vancouver health region bringing the death toll in B.C. to 17.

In good news, a total of 396 people have now recovered from novel coronavirus in B.C.

There are now COVID-19 outbreaks at 12 long term care centres on the mainland, the hardest hit of which is the Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver.

There are approximately 3,500 tests being conducted per day in British Columbia, and over 10,000 everyday across Canada.

In talking about B.C.’s response efforts, Dr. Bonnie Henry says there have been a lot of calls for a lockdown in the province.

“We’ve done something similar to what others are calling a lockdown. We’ve done it in a more strategic way rather than have blanket restrictions,” said Dr. Henry.

“We’ve seen extraordinary compassion and care in our communities and that is what will get us through.”

Planning

Health Minister Adrian Dix added that the province continues to prepare for more cases in the coming weeks.

There are now 4,295 hospital beds available for COVID-19 patients in the province.

On Friday, Dr. Bonnie Henry expressed cautious optimism after models showed that based on confirmed tests, the rate of COVID-19 growth in B.C. has started to slow down.

“We’re not out of the woods yet and still need to track this carefully and still need to continue those measures,” said Henry.

According to her, this can be attributed to stringent physical distancing and self isolation measures enacted by the province thus far.

Nevertheless, the province is preparing contingency plans in case the epidemic increases, in the worst case scenario, to the levels seen in northern Italy.


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.

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 650,776.

Over 30,200 people have died from the illness and 139,555 have made a full recovery.