UPDATE: B.C. government says 45 new COVID-19 cases; 2 in Interior Health region - InfoNews

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UPDATE: B.C. government says 45 new COVID-19 cases; 2 in Interior Health region

B.C. public health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks at a news conference in Vancouver, March 18, 2020.
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March 18, 2020 - 3:19 PM

There are 45 new COVID-19 cases in B.C. taking the total number to 231.

The majority of cases remain in the Lower Mainland. There are two new cases within the Interior Health region taking the total to nine so far.

One of the new cases comes from an individual living in a long-term care home in Vancouver. The number of people who have died from the illness in B.C. remains at seven.

While schools and universities have closed, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said at a press conference in Vancouver today, March 18, the government will not be recommending daycares close.

"We have not recommended blanket closures of childcare services because they are essential services for parents who work in our essential services," Dr. Henry said.

The provincial health officer said parents who can look after their children while working from home will reduce the pressure on daycares. The doctor said more specific guidelines for daycares will be rolled out in the near future.

"These are extraordinary times and we took a number of extraordinary measures... to try and do everything we can to try and stop the transmission of the virus in our communities and flatten out the curve over the next seven to 10 days," she said.

Dr. Henry said the actions taken today to minimize the spread of COVID-19 would be felt in 10 days' time and in the future, and everybody had a responsibility to do their "civic duty" to prevent the spread of the virus.

The announcement comes hours after the B.C. government declared a state of emergency in response to COVID-19.

The state of emergency will be initially in effect for 14 days and may be extended or rescinded at any time.

The measure allows the government additional powers to secure supply chains and make sure people have access to essential goods and services. Those powers also include the ability to ration food or set the price for food and gas.

So far 17,000 people have been tested for COVID-19 in the province and around one million have used the online self-diagnosis tool.

To access the BC COVID-19 Symptom Self-Assessment Tool go here.

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