British Columbians urged to avoid Easter travel as COVID-19 death toll climbs - InfoNews

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British Columbians urged to avoid Easter travel as COVID-19 death toll climbs

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April 12, 2020 - 8:30 AM

VICTORIA - British Columbia's top public health doctor called on residents to avoid travel and resist the urge to spend the Easter long weekend with loved ones outside their households on Saturday as the province reported 35 new cases of COVID-19 and three new deaths.

British Columbia's total number of cases now stands at 1,445, including 58 deaths.

"This is not the time to be going travelling, even if it's to a summer home or cottage," Dr. Bonnie Henry said Saturday.

The plea comes after communities along the province's Sunshine Coast told travellers to not visit.

"We love you all but we just don't have the resources for company this weekend," the District of Sechelt tweeted on Thursday. "Please stay home."

The call was echoed by Nicholas Simons, who represents the Powell River-Sunshine Coast riding, who said ferries on Thursday were full of people undeserving of Canada's relatively lenient quarantine policies.

"For weeks Dr. Henry has said don't travel if it's not essential," he wrote on social media on Friday. "Yesterday ferries to the Sunshine Coast were full of people who deserve to live in a dictatorship. The rest of us respect seniors, heath care workers and each other."

BC Ferries has reduced its number of sailings in recent weeks and reduced its passenger capacity to follow social distancing protocols.

The ferry operator said despite the line-ups seen at various terminals, there was a large drop in passengers.

On Friday, a vessel that saw the highest number of passengers carried 408 people between Vancouver and Victoria at 5 p.m. The same vessel is normally licensed to carry 2,100 passengers and crew, BC Ferries said in a release.

Despite the call to avoid travel, Henry said she doesn't see a need to further shut down parks, even after provincial parks were closed to the public.

"I think it's important for us to get out," she said. "It's important during a time like this when we have so much anxiety — people are cooped up, particularly children — to have those opportunities to go outside."

The province is also working closely with federal corrections to deal with a COVID-19 outbreak at a federal prison in Mission, B.C.

More than 20 prisoners, along with four guards, have tested positive for the illness since the outbreak began earlier this week.

The Mission Institution has the highest number of positive COVID-19 cases among inmates across the country.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 11, 2020.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2020
The Canadian Press

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