FILE – British Columbia provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides an update on the coronavirus in the province, during a news conference in Vancouver, on Wednesday, March 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

B.C. records five new COVID-19 deaths, ‘zero chance’ life will return to normal in April

Province continue to have a recovery rate of about 50 per cent

Five more people have died due to COVID-19 in B.C., Dr. Bonnie Henry said Tuesday (March 31).

B.C.’s top doctor said the province’s total number of cases has risen by 43 to 1,013 in the past 24 hours. A total of 24 people have now died in B.C. Henry said the youngest death has been of a person in their 60s, while the rest have been in people in their 70s or older. Four of the five just-announced deaths were in Vancouver Coastal Health, while one was in Fraser Health.

Henry addressed young people especially, asking them to help the province flatten the curve as the province is hitting a “critical juncture” in the fight against the virus.

“Across the province, any gathering is a danger and none of them should be happening right now,” she said, aside from small groups of people from the same household.

“No one is immune to this virus but everyone can make a difference. If you’re younger, stay apart; that is our duty.”

Neither Henry nor Health Minister Adrian Dix were optimistic about life returning to normal in B.C. any time soon.

“Zero chance for the end of April, little to none in May, or in the immediate weeks after that,” Dix said about the possibility of provincial health orders lifting. The current orders include a ban on gatherings of 50 or more people and a shut-down of bars and sit-down restaurants as well as salons and other personal services. People are also expected to stay at least two metres away from non-household members.

But there was good news: the province continues to have a strong recovery rate. Of the 1,013 total cases, 507 have recovered, bringing the rate to 50 per cent.

Henry said she is still hoping the first wave of COVID-19 could lighten over the summer, as it does for influenza, but that the province would probably see a second wave in the fall.

“Realistically, we are going to be in some form of having to monitor prevent transmission of this virus until we have a vaccine,” she said. “A vaccine is something we really need to push for.”

As of Tuesday, there are 128 people in hospital and 61 in ICU. Dix said there were 55 hospital beds taken up by COVID-19 patients in Vancouver Coastal Health, 53 in Fraser Health, seven in Island Health, eight in Interior Health and five in Northern Health. Across B.C., there are 4,171 empty beds, many of those due to the cancellation of elective surgeries.

Henry said those 61 people in ICU Tuesday are likely different than the 60 in intensive care on Monday, as people are put on, and taken off, ventilators.

“We have a policy very early on for ventilating people early,” she said, thanking that decision for B.C.’s high recovery rate.

The province’s other policies came under fire Tuesday, as Henry defended the decision to identify new cases only by health authority.

“This is not something that is about protecting people privacy, necessarily, it’s about risk to the public… and the measures we all need to take in communities across the province,” Henry said, noting that community transmission of COVID-19 means everyone is at risk.

Interior Health recorded their first community outbreak at an agricultural facility. Temporary foreign workers at Bylands Nurseries in West Kelowna have been isolated, she said.

Across B.C., the total number of cases broken down by health authority: 476 in Vancouver Coastal Health, 348 in Fraser Health, 67 in Island Health, 107 in Interior Health and 15 in Northern Health.

READ MORE: B.C. records first at-home death from COVID-19, but 70+ hospital patients have recovered

READ MORE: 10% of hospitalized COVID-19 patients are 40 or younger: Canada’s top doctor

READ MORE: Outbreak of COVID-19 at West Kelowna garden centre


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey-Langley SkyTrain extension faces potential delays due to COVID-19

Pandemic ‘adversely’ impacting TransLink’s finances; ‘much work’ required to approve next investment plan

Langley City’s Community Day will go virtual

Details are being worked out next week as to what efforts will replace the June 20 festival

Twilight Drive-In reopens with concession sales approved by Fraser Health, owner says

100 cars of people will now watch films, planning to adhere to new provincial health 50-car capacity

Fraser Health takes charge of COVID response at Langley Lodge

Fraser Health is also sending in a germ-killing machine to fight the virus

Asian giant “murder hornets” found in Brookswood

Langley is the farthest east the invasive species has been found so far

Mission prison COVID-19 outbreak ends, 9 new cases in B.C.

New positive test at Port Coquitlam care home

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Thanks for helping the Aldergrove Star to continue its mission to provide trusted local news

Man who bound, murdered Vancouver Island teen still a risk to public: parole board

Kimberly Proctor’s killer is still ‘mismanaging emotions,’ has had ‘temper tantrums’

VIDEO: Humpback whales put on quite a show

The ‘playful’ pod lingered by a Campbell River tour operator’s boat for quite some time

Getting hitched at historic B.C. gold rush town still on table during COVID-19 pandemic

Micro-weddings, online visits, offered at Barkerville Historic Town and Park

VIDEO: Police look for suspect seen tripping elderly woman in Burnaby

The elderly woman was walking near the SkyTrain station when she was randomly tripped

Chilliwack teachers, assistants concerned with lack of PPE guidelines ahead of school reopening

As schools get ready to open, many worry measures won’t be enough to protect students from COVID-19

Revelstoke woman finds welcoming letter on her Alberta-registered truck

There have been multiple reports online of vandalism to vehicles with Alberta licence plates

Spirit bear possibly spotted in West Kootenay

A local resident spotted the white-coloured bear while on an evening trail run near Castlegar on May 27

Most Read