Monday, April 13, 2020

Monday COVID update relays weekend case counts, sad news on more passings from long term care facilities and a reminder on how BC communities can enforce Public Health Orders

The Monday briefing on COVID-19 from Dr. Bonnie Henry and British Columbia's Health Minister Adrian Dix provided for a recap of the provincial efforts in response to the virus making note of the data taken from the last two days.

The report from today making for the 50th time since the outbreak that they have provided an update for the residents of the province as to the status of the provincial response to COVID-19

“Today, we are providing case updates for two 24-hour reporting periods: April 11 to 12, and April 12 through to midday today. “In the first reporting period through April 12, we had 25 new cases, for a total of 1,470 cases in British Columbia. 

In the last 24 hours, we have had a further 20 new cases, for a total of 1,490 cases in British Columbia. 

This represents 45 new cases since we reported on Saturday."

When it came to the breakdown between Health Authorities, things looked as follows:  650 are in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 591 are in the Fraser Health region, 87 are in the Island Health region, 136 are in the Interior Health region and 26 are in the Northern Health region, the latter the same level as was last reported on Saturday.

Sadly, Dr. Bonnie had the duty to deliver news of the passing of 11 more British Columbians, the majority of them from a number of long term care facilities in the Lower Mainland and as Health Minister Adrian Dix each account one of sadness and loss for families across the province. The news from the weekend brings the total number of deaths related to COVID-19 in BC to 69 as of today.

The two officials also continued to express their concern over outbreaks at the Federal Corrections Facility at Mission.

"The BC Centre for Disease Control has joined Fraser Health teams to provide ongoing support for the outbreak in the Mission Institution, a federal correctional centre. The focus is to protect the B.C. public and support efforts to contain transmission within the facility. Federal officials have confirmed 35 cases of COVID-19. Eight people associated with the Mission facility have been hospitalized. These numbers are included in B.C.’s overall case count."

Towards an indication that progress is being made in the response to COVID-19, of the 1,470 cases in the province that have been recorded, Doctor Henry observed that 926 who had tested positive have now recovered and no longer require isolation.

“Of the total COVID-19 cases, 137 individuals are hospitalized and 58 of those are in intensive care. The remaining people with COVID-19 are recovering at home in self-isolation."

In the Question and Answer portion of the briefing, both Dr. Henry and Minister Dix addressed issues related to social distancing and weekend travellers.

A question directed to the Doctor called attention to some incidents in Vancouver over the weekend on themes of breaking social distancing and physical distancing and a need for enforcement on those who break the rules. In reply the Public Health Official noting that municipalities do have the power to enforce Public Health orders.

"We've said this before, and I think that ..  and as Minister Dix said there are some people who are trying to make their name for themselves; to do things that they think are defiant but we know most people are following the rules and that is making a difference  ... I believe that we are doing the right things and the vast majority of people are doing the right things,  and that we need to give people the understanding and the means to do the right things ... 

We need to ensure that people are aware of the rules, we need to step up some of the enforcement of those rules and we have bylaw officers in all of our communities now who are able to do that and we need to put in measures that make it less easy for people to flaunt the rules if you will. Simple things like closing the parks to vehicular traffic so that there's more ability for people to have space, making sure that the beaches are able to support people being with their families and being outside and not mingling with others"

On the theme of travellers and in particular those on BC Ferries this weekend, both officials noted that while there may have been some travelling for non-essential reasons, for others there could be very legitimate reasons for the travel, noting as well that the official data  compared to last year from BC Ferries and recent moves to reduce capacity and sailings have delivered for a significant decline in British Columbians travelling over the Easter holiday.

"We have asked British Columbians to avoid non essential travel and we have received many quesitons about BC Ferries and about other travel options. I think it's safe to say that we have been united in keeping our firewall strong across this province and BC Ferries continues to report more than 80 percent decline on travellers on all of their routes, so that is something that reassures us.

But I do want to say that there are many reasons why people may need to travel and essential travel is still required to keep our province going, to make sure that we have the food, the medications that things that we need in all parts of the province. 

Goods and the people to deliver our services still need to move, many students as well are now returning home as the semesters have ended for our universities and that is an important thing for them.

I also know many people live and work in more than one location and that means that the start and the end of their week they may need to be on the road. 

But I thank you all for doing what you can to limit your need to travel and everybody who's efforts to stay home and stay safe and keep a safe distance from others over this weekend "-- Dr. Bonnie Henry

For Mr. Dix a review of the numbers as provided by BC Ferries put the focus on the theme that most British Columbians have heard the message on non essential travel.

"We get information from BC Ferries and others and just to put it in context because I know that there has been a lot of discussion and a lot of frustration in communities about people who may appear at least to be travelling unnecessarily and there is some concern about that, and undoubtedly  there are cases where that is the case.

However, I would like to note, that on the major routes according to BC Ferries and this is information that we have received from them that I think they are making public, last year 2019 on the major routes:

Swartz Bay - Nanaimo - Tsawwassen  -- 173,284 from Thursday to Sunday on the Easter Weekend, this year 14,633 which is 92 per cent less

Horseshoe Bay - Langdale -- Last year, 21,398 this year 3,911.

Southern Gulf Island -- 23,349 to 3,342

Other Minor Routes -- 42,904 to 8,908

Health Minister Adrian Dix with the data review from BC Ferries.

You can review the full Monday statement from the province here.

The BC Centre for Disease control has some valuable Coronavirus notes related to COVID-19 you can explore that information here.

You can learn more about the outbreak from both the Province and the Federal government from the links below:

Federal Government site

British Columbia Government site

The World Health Organization website also offers up the latest advisories on the global situation.

More from  Northern Health can be reviewed here 

You can review our archive of past statements and local information here.

Local governments and organizations have also provided for increased awareness of COVID-19 issues, the string of statements that came quickly at the end of the week can be reviewed here.

For notes from across Canada and British Columbia we have been archiving the latest items through our political portal Darcy McGee

Ottawa Observations

Victoria Viewpoints

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