Models show B.C.'s COVID-19 response slowing rate of disease: Dr. Henry - InfoNews

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Models show B.C.'s COVID-19 response slowing rate of disease: Dr. Henry

A health-care worker is silhouetted as she walks past the British Columbia mobile medical unit set up outside Abbotsford Regional Hospital in Abbotsford, B.C. Tuesday, April 14, 2020. The mobile medical unit was deployed to Abbotsford to assist with the COVID-19 outbreak that has occurred at the Mission Correctional Institution.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
April 18, 2020 - 8:30 AM

VICTORIA - British Columbia's responses to fighting COVID-19 have flattened the curve and slowed the spread of the virus to the point where some restrictions could be eased in the coming weeks, health officials said Friday.

But a return to the activities and lifestyles before COVID-19 aren't likely in the near future, said Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

B.C.'s "new normal" will involve taking tiny steps forward to guard against a resurgence of the virus, said Henry, suggesting a return to performing more elective surgeries at hospitals is one move being considered.

"We are experiencing a slow down of our rate of new infections and we want that to continue," Henry said at a news conference. "We need that to continue for us to be able to move to the next stage."

B.C.'s collective actions to practice social distancing, self-isolating and frequent hand washing have been working to control transmissions and growth of COVID-19, she said. The province also introduced restrictions in mid-March limiting the size of gatherings, closing schools, restaurants and bars and cancelling elective surgeries, said Henry.

"The differences between what could have been and what really happened here in B.C. is because of the measures that we as people in B.C. took together," she said. "We are on the right track. What we have done has made a difference, but we must hold the line."

Provincial government modelling shows B.C.'s case rate and patient admissions to intensive care units are far below what were expected, especially when compared to Northern Italy and Hubei, China, Henry said.

She said the modelling does not indicate a sign of so-called herd immunity in B.C., but points to the success of residents committing themselves to embracing the public health orders.

Henry said this isn't the end of the fight against COVID-19.

"It's not even the beginning of the end. It is perhaps, maybe, the end of the beginning."

B.C. reported 43 new cases of COVID-19 Friday for a total of 1,618 cases. There were no new deaths, keeping the B.C. toll at 78 deaths.

A joint news release on Friday from Dix and Henry said 119 people are being treated in hospital and 52 of them are in intensive care. The release said 966 people have recovered from the disease.

Henry and Dix also said there are now 63 COVID-19 cases associated with the federal prison in Mission, with six people in hospital. Twenty long-term care facilities and one acute-care unit have active COVID-19 outbreaks, the statement said.

Dix said during the earlier news conference that the way forward is finding a new, healthy normal that does not undermine the social fabric or the economy.

"It's bad for our health not to have school classes going," he said. "It's bad for our health when people are unemployed. It's bad for our health when the surgeries are cancelled. It's bad for our health that we can't visit our loved ones in long-term care."

But Dix said people should take solace in the decisions that have been made to fight COVID-19 and the progress shown.

"We can't go back to last December right now, so together what we have to do is we have to use our strengths to find a middle road," he said.

Government data show more females than males in B.C. have contracted COVID-19, while the median age of people who have been admitted to hospital is 68.

Henry said the data showed that most people diagnosed with COVID-19 range between 30 years and 60 years old, but most people admitted to the intensive care unit are between 50 years and 79 years old.

"We've had one death of a person in their 40s, two people in their 60s, but the majority of them have been people who are in their 70s, 80s and 90s, including somebody who was over 100," Henry said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 17, 2020.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2020
The Canadian Press

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