UPDATE: 40 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.; 3 in Interior Health region - InfoNews

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UPDATE: 40 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.; 3 in Interior Health region

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry speaking at a press conference March 18.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK
March 19, 2020 - 3:22 PM

There are three more cases of COVID-19 within the Interior Health region, taking the total to 12 so far.

The three new cases are part of 40 new cases in B.C. announced today, March 19, taking the total number in the province to 271.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said since yesterday, one person had died of the illness. The person was a resident of the Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver, where six others have died.

The number of people now in intensive care has increased from 13 to 17. The vast majority of the cases are in the Lower Mainland in the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser health regions.

Henry stressed it was important for people to support each other, and especially important not to let seniors become socially isolated.

"This is a critical time for us to stay connected while we are staying apart," Henry said.

She said precautions everyone must take to protect each other are "not optional" but that maintaining social distance must come with keeping a social connection to prevent isolation and that could happen online. Anxiety over the spread of the virus is increasing but that means it's all the more important for people to safely reach out to each other, including seniors, she said.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the province has eliminated the three-month waiting period for medical services for British Columbians returning to Canada to ensure people get the care they need.

Dix also reiterated individuals should not be hoarding groceries and other items.

"We know our supply chains are strong," Dix said. "There is not a problem."

British Columbia has declared both a provincial state of emergency and a public health emergency because of COVID-19.

Vancouver city council followed the province with its own local state of emergency today.

The city says the declaration allows staff to take additional measures in the battle against the virus including giving the city priority in acquiring clothing, equipment or medical supplies to cope with the pandemic.

Mayor Kennedy Stewart said the bylaw gives the city the power to take things "a step further" if businesses continue to ignore orders to close as well.

Kennedy said he introduced the motion after learning police had identified over 20 bars and restaurants that defied an order to close on St. Patrick's Day. The mayor said he has since learned of many more businesses ignoring a ban on large gatherings aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19.

— This story was updated at 4:38 p.m. Thursday, March 19, 2020, to include more information.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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