(Dr. Bonnie Henry/BC Gov)

The B.C. Ministry of Health has reported 55 new cases of novel coronavirus in the province, bringing the total number cases in B.C. to 1,121 people.

In total, 525 of these cases are in the Vancouver Coastal Region, 386 in Fraser Health, 72 on Vancouver Island, 121 in Interior Health and 17 in Northern Health region.

There are now a total of 149 people who have been hospitalized with COVID-19, 68 of whom are in critical care.

6 additional deaths have been reported today, bringing the death toll in B.C. to 31. This includes two deaths on Vancouver Island, the first COVID-19 related deaths reported on the island since the start of this pandemic.

In good news, a total of 641 people have now recovered from novel coronavirus in B.C.

There continues to be COVID-19 outbreaks at 21 long term care centres on the mainland, the hardest hit of which is the Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver.

Dr. Henry clarified at an earlier briefing that the majority of these care centres have a single person, staff or resident, who was detected with this illness and authorities were able to put in outbreak measures so that others are not affected.

New outbreak and more advisories

B.C. is also reporting its first outbreak at a correctional facility after one inmate tested positive for COVID-19 at the Okanagan Correctional Centre in Interior Health.

Dr. Henry stated that outbreaks at correctional facilities have been a concern for health experts, and there have been a number of measures put in place to try and reduce the risk of transmission at these facilities.

With warmer weather on the horizon, Dr. Henry also reiterates the need to avoid all non-essential travel “particularly to smaller communities where we might not have the resources to support you should there be transmission in those communities.”

Further, a number of religious celebrations coming up over the next few weeks – including Easter, Passover, and Ramadan – will have to be conducted virtually.

“We want people now to start thinking about what we can do to support people in practicing their faith without having to have in person gatherings,” said Henry, adding that many faith leaders have already started offering devotees, particularly seniors, virtual ways to participate in religious ceremonies.

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.

Health Minister Adrian Dix stated that as of today, there are 4,273 empty acute care beds  across the province, which represents a 60.2% capacity in the health care system.

Dix says provincial authorities are encouraged by Prime Minster Trudeau’s announcement earlier today that the government has sourced over 1 million protective masks for frontline health care workers, in addition to the 10 million masks that were acquired over the last few days.

He says B.C. continues their effort so source PPEs, and will be working with federal and provincial partners to allocate equipment as they come in.

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 1,007,436.

Over 51,700 people have died from the illness and 210,582have made a full recovery.