B.C.'s health minister says it's wrong for US to prevent 3M from sending N95 masks to Canada - InfoNews

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B.C.'s health minister says it's wrong for US to prevent 3M from sending N95 masks to Canada

Chief provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks at a news conference, Friday, April 3, 2020.
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April 03, 2020 - 3:49 PM

The US order to prevent 3M from exporting its N95 masks to Canada is "wrong for them and it's wrong for us," B.C.'s health minister said today in the daily COVID-19 press conference.

Minnesota-based 3M announced earlier in the day that the Trump administration is trying to prevent it from exporting to Canada the high-grade face masks that are in high demand and dwindling supply around the world as health professionals try to defend themselves against the novel coronavirus.

"COVID 19 doesn’t do well with borders, we want the US to do well. My message today is we shouldn’t respond with retaliation, we shouldn't respond with force, we should ... work together because are we are genuinely in this together," Adrian Dix, health minister, said. "I think parochial action such as this is not consistent with what we need to do with our society."

Pulp for gowns and masks used to make these medical supplies is produced in Nanaimo, but that doesn't mean that the issue should be dealt with in a "tit for tat" manner. It's better to simply support the Prime Minister as his office deals with the issue.

"We need to respond on the science, on effectiveness and on who we are as Canadians," he said. The need for unity was a common theme in today's press conference.

Four more British Columbians have died from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, raising the death toll to 35.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, chief provincial health officer, said three of the deaths are linked to outbreaks at a pair of care homes: the Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver and Haro Care Centre in Vancouver.

There were also 53 new cases of the novel coronavirus confirmed, bringing the total number of cases provincewide up to 1,174. Of those cases, 541 were in the Vancouver Coastal health authority, 412 in Fraser Health, 74 cases in Vancouver Island Health, 126 in Interior Health and 21 in Northern Health.

Henry said that this is the time for British Columbians to stand strong and keep going forward with the hand washing, the isolation and social distancing methods that have been applied in recent weeks.

"This is our time to hold the line," Henry said. "We must be unwavering (in our) commitment to keep the firewall up here in B.C. to keep it up and flatten the curve."

It's the only way to protect families and the elderly, she said. 

"We have to have a united focus for the next while," she said. "We need to toe the line together and keep firewall strong in our communities across the province. We are holding the line for our families and our communities."

We are entering the second incubation since stiffer regulations were put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19, such as travel restrictions, and school closures.

With the first incubation period, Henry said, there were people who were already exposed.

"There was nothing we could do but detect them and take care of them," Henry said. "Now we are seeing 50 people a day who are positive for the disease and some need health care."

Next two weeks will offer a clearer picture of what the infection rate is and whether B.C. has managed to flatten the curve.

When asked why B.C. wasn't offering predictions on the potential death toll, which Ontario did this week Henry pointed out that it's simply not the point of modelling.

"It’s to give you a sense of what should happen in different scenarios," she said, adding there are too many variables at play. For example, in B.C., 24 of 35 deaths from COVID-19 were in long-term care homes.

"You can’t predict that," she said. "We need to know what resources we have so we can give everybody the best chances they can get to survive this disease and have (healthcare available) for everyone else who needs it in B.C."

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