BC Health Officials ban gatherings of over 50 people

Mar 16 2020, 1:58 pm

British Columbia health officials have banned gatherings of over 50 people in an effort to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix made the announcement Monday.

“Last week I issued a provincial health officer order cancelling all gatherings greater than 250 people across the country. This weekend we’ve had discussions with my colleagues, and we have moved that now to cancelling all gatherings greater than 50 people,” said Henry.

“I know that will have an impact on many people, but we have also seen that businesses are taking responsibility: municipalities and other agencies are shutting down where people are gathering.”

This comes as the number of cases and deaths in the province continues to climb. Henry stated Monday that there were 30 additional cases of coronavirus over the weekend, bringing the province’s total to 103.

She also announced three deaths over the weekend, bringing Canada’s total fatality count to four.

The three people who passed away were residents of a care centre in Lynn Valley, which saw an outbreak in cases earlier this month.

Of the 103 cases in BC, there are six individuals who are currently in the hospital. According to Henry, “Everyone else is in stable condition being managed at home.”

There are also five people who have “fully recovered” from the virus and “many more who are showing no symptoms” but still need to be tested.

Dix highlighted additional measures being taken by doctors and hospitals.

“British Columbia health authorities are directed to move all hospitals in the province to outbreak response phase 2. This means that hospitals will only undertake urgent and emergency procedures and will postpone all un-urgent scheduled surgeries,” he said, adding this decision will help free up additional hospital space.

“We are also making some significant changes in primary care. Pharmacists have been directed to refill British Columbians’ prescriptions without requiring a physicians note,” he said.

“This will save time in the doctor’s office, allow us to protect people in the system, and to ensure that doctors can focus on more urgent matters.”

As for care homes, Dix says the province is looking to allow “essential visitors” only.

Today’s provincial update came shortly after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the country will be closing its borders to anyone who’s not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.

At this time, Trudeau said the measure doesn’t apply to US citizens or to flights coming from Mexico and the Caribbean.

Dix says that while the province is “strongly supportive of most of these changes,” concern remains with the fact that “access to visitors from the United States continues to be allowed, given the situation in Washington, which affects British Columbians more than anyone.”

“It’s our strong message that visitors from the United States not come to British Columbia. Don’t come,” added Dix.

With coronavirus on the rise, BC public health authorities are reminding individuals who attend events and large gatherings to monitor their health for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. And if you’re not feeling well, they recommend staying home at this time. Also, due to unexpected cancellations, please check the event you plan to attend is still taking place. Keep up with COVID-19 news here.