Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, and Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, have issued the following joint statement regarding updates on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) response in British Columbia:
“We are announcing 11 new cases of COVID-19, for a total of 64 cases in British Columbia. The individuals are all in the Vancouver Coastal Health region and were confirmed positive, based on BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) testing.
“Three cases are connected to a cluster at Lions Gate Hospital, one is a close contact of the previously identified worker at the Lynn Valley Care Centre, five cases are travel-related and the remaining two cases are under investigation.
“The three individuals at Lions Gate Hospital are administrative staff. They have no known link to the Lynn Valley Care Centre, nor do they have regular contact with patients.
“Of those cases linked to travel, patients include two from Egypt, one from Iran, one from the Philippines and one from Mexico.
“Public health teams continue to be on site at both the Lynn Valley Care Centre and the Hollyburn House Retirement Residence, working to contain potential transmission to other residents and workers.
“From the outset, we have been proactive in our efforts. Our approach has been to get ahead of increasing risks and do all we can to break the chain of transmission, and we will continue to do so.
“We recently provided direction and recommendations on travel and public gatherings, and we would like to thank all British Columbians for doing their part in supporting these efforts.
“We are recommending against all non-essential travel outside of Canada. Should you choose to travel, stay away from work or school for 14 days on your return. Guidance for self-isolation is available on the BCCDC website: http://bccdc.ca
“For those who must continue to cross our borders for essential travel, to facilitate the movement of goods and people, we recommend social distancing, active daily monitoring for symptoms and staying away from people who are most vulnerable while abroad and on your return.
“In directing event organizers to cancel all gatherings larger than 250, our objective is to enable everyone to maintain important social distancing measures, which is much more challenging in larger events. It also means you can still do your shopping, go to restaurants, attend family events and continue to enjoy many other activities.
“The recommendations and direction are about protecting our community and about slowing down the transmission of COVID-19 to enable our health-care system to continue to support those who need care – whether with COVID-19 or another illness.
“We continue widespread testing of those with symptoms to identify cases of COVID-19 and take immediate action. As of March 13, 2020, 6,326 individuals have been tested in B.C. We commend health-care workers across our province and at the BCCDC for their incredible work in this area.
“We continue to activate the British Columbia Pandemic Provincial Coordination Plan. One example of the measures we are taking is to enable emergency, temporary registration of physicians and nurses. That is now in place and we have already received many calls from across the province of offers to support our pandemic response.
“Our 811 navigators and nurses are doing an incredible job with record high call volumes, providing support to over 10,000 callers in the last three days. We are adding more staff and more phone lines to resolve the intermittent busy signals some people have experienced.”