BREAKING: B.C. may ease pandemic restrictions by mid-May if existing rules continue to be followed - InfoNews

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BREAKING: B.C. may ease pandemic restrictions by mid-May if existing rules continue to be followed

Dr. Bonnie Henry
Image Credit: FACEBOOK
April 17, 2020 - 11:24 AM

The resumption of elective surgeries in B.C. may be the first easing of lockdown restrictions that have been put in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

That was the key piece of optimistic news during a media briefing session held by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry today, April 17.

But the resumption of elective surgeries will not happen until mid-May at the earliest and only if everyone follows the existing rules, she stressed.

“We are not in a place yet when we can start to think of taking off the restrictions we have put in place,” Henry said. “We’ve had success because we’ve been diligent and thoughtful and we’re going to continue this.”

The modelling that was presented showed the course of the pandemic in B.C. compared to other parts of Canada and the world.

An earlier presentation, March 27, compared B.C. versus extreme outbreaks such as happened in Italy. That focused on the need to free up hospital beds in case the same thing happened here.

One of the charts from the technical briefing.
One of the charts from the technical briefing.
Image Credit: Submitted/Ministry of Health

That surge did not happen because B.C. introduced lockdown procedures earlier and they were stricter than many other jurisdictions. But that doesn’t mean the pandemic is over and restrictions can be lifted.

Henry noted that there are still outbreaks happening in places like long-term care homes and an ongoing one in a federal correctional centre in Mission.

One of the charts in the presentation showed the projected number of people in intensive care dropping to zero in May if B.C. keeps the same restrictions in place. That number jumps to about 200 intensive care patients if the province was to return to pre-pandemic normalcy.

“Now is not the end,” Henry said. “It is not even the beginning of the end, to quote Churchill. But it is, perhaps, somewhere near the beginning of the end of this pandemic and we are planning our future over the coming months.”

From Henry’s perspective, that planning centres around health outcomes. She’s concerned about things like people needing elective surgery but also the impact this has on people suffering from mental health issues, the increase in gender-based violence and drug use.

On the economic side, there are teams of people working on ways to bring businesses back to life but Henry warned safe distancing in stores will continue, likely for at least a year. There will continue to be people working from home and fewer face-to-face meetings.

There might even be a gradual, partial, return to school for some students.

But, she stressed, there will be much less travel until a vaccine is found, which can take 12 to 18 months.

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