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Canada COVID-19: A ray of hope, but protective measures remain vital in preventing dramatic spread in B.C.

10:40  26 march  2020
10:40  26 march  2020 Source:   vancouversun.com

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The number of COVID-19 cases in B.C. continues to rise but there are early signs that drastic measures to control its spread are helping, says the provincial health officer.

Provincial testing facilities led by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control have finally cleared a backlog of tests so recent numbers are more reflective of the current situation in the province, Dr. Bonnie Henry said during her daily update on Wednesday. She reported 42 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 for a total of 659 in the province, up from 231 one week ago.

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Henry said B.C.’s case count is still “a generation behind” because some people were exposed before protective measures were implemented. As of Wednesday, 14 people had died and 183 people had recovered. Sixty-four people remained in hospital, including 26 in intensive care.

But some of the people who were exposed before the social distancing measures were ordered will develop the disease in the next week to 10 days, Henry said.

“It’s heartening to me, though, that we’re not seeing dramatic increases, and doubling in a day or two days or three days, of the hospitalized cases,” she said. “It is gradually increasing though and we’re watching that very carefully.”

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Henry said it remains critical that people continue following orders and advice to prevent the spread of the virus.

“What I want to see is these numbers starting to come down over the next coming days,” she said. “Particularly, when we look at our epidemic curve, we want to see that the onset of illness of people — the new cases starting — is going down, and we actually won’t know that for a few days, so it’s a difficult position to be in.”

Henry also said Wednesday that another person had died due to the outbreak at the Lynn Valley Care Centre, bringing its death toll to 11, or all but three of B.C.’s 14 deaths. Everyone who died was older than 70.

Lynn Valley is one of nine long-term care homes in the province where a person has tested positive. Fifty-five health care workers at the facilities have the disease, she said.

Cases have risen sharply at Haro Park Centre home in Vancouver, Henry said, rising to 28 infected residents and 27 staff members.

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“It does draw attention, again, to the fragility of our long-term care facilities and the risk that we put the residents of long-term care (in),” Henry said.

She said strong protective measures have been implemented at the homes and an order is coming to bar the practice of care home workers taking shifts in several different facilities.

Henry said she is also concerned by the dramatic increase in the use of personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves in hospitals over the past week due to the rise in hospitalizations.

Shipments are on the way but to address the higher-than-expected “burn rate,” health officials are looking for alternative sources supplies and ways of preserving the equipment, she said.

“We’re at a bit of a critical phase with personal protective equipment,” she said. “This happened quite quickly. We have had a number of supplies on order for some time. Some have arrived, thankfully, and we are actively looking at how we can get as much as we can in the short term.”

Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix have also repeatedly urged British Columbians to maintain “social distancing” of one to two metres from each other. In recent weeks, Henry has ordered restaurants to switch to take out and delivery only, closed personal service establishments such as salons, and banned gatherings of 50 or more people.

Henry also elaborated on her order banning gatherings of 50 or more people, warning that “smaller is better” and encouraging people to instead connect virtually online. She discouraged everything from having visitors over to one’s home, meeting friends in a park or attending a celebration or ceremony.

“Even two or three (people) can be that transmission point,” she said.

With files from Scott Brown and Patrick Johnston

neagland@postmedia.com

twitter.com/nickeagland

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