BC announces 77 new coronavirus cases, bringing total to 348

Mar 20 2020, 3:13 pm

British Columbia health officials announced 77 more cases of COVID-19 on Friday afternoon, bringing the provincial total to 348 people.

Of those, 22 people are in hospital with 10 of them in the intensive care unit, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry told reporters in Vancouver.

A case has been identified at another care home, the Dufferin Care Centre in the Fraser Health region, and the home is using outbreak protocols, Henry said. This is in addition to BC’s most deadly outbreak at the Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver.

Henry re-iterated calls for British Columbians to practice social distancing by staying home.

“The risk of this virus is everywhere in British Columbia. It’s everywhere in Canada,” she said, reprimanding people photographed on Kits Beach this week sitting together in large groups.

Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix also thanked healthcare workers for their essential labour during the pandemic, and committed to getting them the protective equipment they need.

“You’re performing miracles every day,” Dix said.

He also revealed that ICU beds in the province are nearly 80% full, highlighting the need to slow the virus’ spread to not overwhelm the healthcare system.

Henry said BC has enacted social distancing measures earlier compared to other jurisdictions as they deal with the outbreak, and she hopes it will have the effect of flattening the curve.

The coronavirus emerged in Wuhan, China in late 2019 has responsible for mass closures and societal lockdowns as people around the world try to slow the pandemic’s spread.

Canada and the US will close their land border to non-essential travellers at 11:59 pm, on Friday, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has unveiled a massive financial stimulus package to help citizens and businesses bear the economic impact.

On Friday, the City of Vancouver announced it’s ordering all restaurants to close except for takeout, and children are now forbidden from playing on public playgrounds.