BREAKING: Five new COVID-19 deaths in B.C.; testing now available to everyone - InfoNews

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BREAKING: Five new COVID-19 deaths in B.C.; testing now available to everyone

Dr. Bonnie Henry announced five new deaths in B.C. at a media briefing, Monday, April 20, 2020.
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April 20, 2020 - 3:56 PM

Five more British Columbians died of COVID-19 this weekend, bringing provincewide death toll to 86, Dr. Bonnie Henry said today, April 20.

In addition, there were 52 new COVID-19 diagnoses raising the total number of cases to 1,699.

The bulk of those cases are in the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority which has had 700 cases and Fraser Heath which has 705 cases.

There are 153 cases in Interior Health, 102 in Vancouver Island Health and 39 in Northern Health, while 1,039 people B.C.-wide have fully recovered from the disease.

In terms of outbreaks, Dr. Henry said that there has been some good news with the one case of COVID-19 in Okanagan Correctional Centre being resolved.

“The incubation period is over with no further cases identified (at the prison),” Henry said.

She added that there was no change in the community outbreak in Bylands Nurseries in West Kelowna.

The new trouble spot is an outbreak of COVID-19 at Kearl Lake, a northern Alberta oilsands camp, which has sickened multiple people. Some of the workers there have travelled to B.C., though the full extent is not yet known.

Seven cases related to that site have already been identified and anyone who has travelled from Kearl Lake to B.C. since March 15 is ordered to self isolate for 15 days.

Tracking and diagnosing cases are a priority in the fight to flatten the curve in B.C., Henry said.

“We want to avoid another spike in community cases, we are changing our strategy,” she said.

Anyone with symptoms can be assessed or tested through their family physician, a nurse practitioner or community assessment centres, Henry said.

“Everyone can get tested but not everyone needs to get tested,” she said. “If you don’t have symptoms, this test is not necessarily valid.”

If you have a cough, fever, shortness of breath or have had contact with someone who has COVID-19 or is associated with an outbreak. There has been broadened testing so the powers that be have a better idea of anyone in the community who has COVID-19.

It’s all a part of the strategy to flatten or bend the curve — as is the plan to extend the current state of shutdown across the province.

“We are not expecting any changes in April, we’re looking at the middle of May if things continue to go as they’ve been going,” Henry said.

B.C. has learned from other jurisdictions that opening up too fast will lead to the exponential spread of COVID-19.

“The new normal for coming months will have restrictions,” she said.

The number of people at weddings, funerals, concerts and festivals in the immediate future will be limited going forward and things like parades and travel in B.C. and beyond may be significantly curtailed.

While these restrictions won't last forever, Henry said she realizes it's difficult for people to stay the course.

"We've been appealing to the better angels of our nature for several months," she said.

"We may not know someone who has this or know someone who is in a long term care home. It may not touch us personally. But we need to think of the seniors and elders in our life… we have averted a major crisis in our province and it’s because people have done what we've asked them to do."

Henry said she is aware of some of the  COVID-19 shutdown backlash in the US and recognizes that anxiety and fear manifests itself in different ways, but we have to tow the line.

One day, however, there will be a vaccine. When that happens Henry said she's looking forward to a "big party."


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