U.S. visitors, 'don't come,' B.C.'s health minister says - InfoNews

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U.S. visitors, 'don't come,' B.C.'s health minister says

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Minister of Health Adrian Dix provide an update on COVID-19 to the media.
Image Credit: Province of British Columbia
March 16, 2020 - 1:30 PM

It’s time to ban U.S. residents from nonessential travel into Canada to prevent the spread of COVID-19, B.C.’s health minister said today.  

“We remain concerned that access to Canada from the U.S. remains open,” Adrian Dix said in a press conference, following the federal announcement that Canada will be closing its borders to people who are not citizens or permanent residents, other than Americans.

“It’s our strong view and strong message that visitors from the U.S. don’t come to B.C. because at this moment that is the wrong thing to do. We understand people are going self-isolate, but better than self-isolating, for visitors, is not to come.”

Dix pointed out that B.C. is particularly vulnerable at this point due to its proximity to Washington State, where the death toll in the state reached 42, and the number of confirmed cases hit 772.

There were three more deaths in B.C. from COVID-19. Currently all deaths related to COVID-19 are linked to an outbreak at the Lynn Valley Care Centre home in North Vancouver, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said.

She also confirmed 30 more confirmed cases of COVID-19 Saturday, bringing B.C.’s total to 103. 

The province announced added measures, such as preparing hospitals for an influx of patients by postponing all non-urgent scheduled surgeries to free up "hundreds and hundreds and hundreds" of hospital beds.

Any gatherings over 50 people were also banned in B.C. 

The biggest change, however, is the border closure announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“This measure will carve out some designated exceptions including for air crews, diplomats, immediate family members of Canadian citizens and, at this time, U.S. citizens,” Trudeau said.

When asked why, if the closure of borders was needed the U.S. was not included, Trudeau said the U.S. border remains open "at the moment" because the integration of the two countries' economies is "quite particular.”

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