BREAKING: Spike in B.C. COVID-19 cases, 71 more confirmed - InfoNews

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BREAKING: Spike in B.C. COVID-19 cases, 71 more confirmed

B.C.'s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks at a press briefing, Wednesday, April 22, 2020.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK / B.C. Government
April 22, 2020 - 4:00 PM

A spike in COVID-19 cases has prompted health officials in B.C. to offer a stark warning — we need to get this under control now so we have a fighting chance come the fall.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Wednesday, April 22, that 71 new diagnoses of the disease were recorded in the last 24 hours, for a total of 1,795 cases to date.

The vast majority of these cases were in long-term care homes in the Fraser Valley. There were also three new deaths, raising the total to 90 since the pandemic hit B.C.

"We continue to experience new community outbreaks in our province and this is very concerning to me and all of us. This tells us that we have more work to do to break the chains of transmission," Dr. Henry said.

To ease restrictions, there needs to be a continued decline in both the number of new cases and the number of outbreaks. 

“We have more work to do to break the chain … we can’t afford to have weaknesses in the firewall if we are going to be able to move ahead in the new normal.”

Part of the reason to get it under of control earlier than later is that the second wave, expected to hit next fall, could have far worse outcomes if the pandemic is not under control.

Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned today that Americans should prepare and get their flu shots, saying the confluence of the flu and COVID-19 could have dire outcomes.

Dr. Henry said she's also concerned. It's unknown as of yet if there's a seasonality to coronavirus, she said, but in the fall once influenza is back along with other respiratory diseases, it’s going to be harder to detect what is what and that could complicate things.

"We know COVID-19 can be under the surface for some time. That’s why we have to do what we can in coming weeks."

Ramped up testing and tracing are part of that effort, but individuals need to do more as well.

"We need to do everything we can now to stamp it out as much as possible so we have a fighting chance going into the fall," she said.

Henry said that she knows that people are tired of staying away from loved ones and not being able to continue with their old lives, but to ease regulations there needs to be a decline in the number of new cases and outbreaks.

That means staying home even if you have a case of what feels like seasonal sniffles — many people with COVID-19 have mild symptoms, so they need to assume the worst, just in case.

“Let me be 100 per cent clear. Right now if you are ill, if you feel it’s a cold or allergies or you are concerned you have COVID 19, stay home, stay away from others and we can help you get tested,” she said.

Employers, she said, must also have measures in place to ensure their workforce is healthy.

If they don’t, and COVID-19 is found, she said, the business is closed down until it is made clear the outbreak is under control.

Provincial Health Minister Adrian Dix echoed that message.

“What is not going to change, what cannot change and what has to happen now is people have to stay home when they’re sick,” Dix said. “It’s the new reality during this part of the pandemic.”

He said that people need to disabuse themselves of the notion that it’s “brave or courageous” to work while sick.

“That can’t be the case,” Dix said.

Of the total number of cases recorded, there have been 745 in Vancouver Coastal Health, 747 in Fraser Health, 110 in Vancouver Island Health, 153  in Interior Health and 40 in Northern Health.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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