In today’s COVID-19 update, B.C.’s provincial health officer and health minister addressed issues about travel over the long weekend as well as controversial viral videos calling for defiance of health orders.
Dr. Bonnie Henry stated today (April 13) that since the last update given on April 11, there were 25 new cases from April 11 to 12 while an additional 20 new cases were confirmed from April 12 to 13 (a total of 45 new cases), raising to the provincial total to 1,490 cases.
That includes 650 cases in Vancouver Coastal Health, 591 in Fraser Health, 136 in Interior Health, 87 on Vancouver Island, and 26 in Northern Health.
One new case has developed at an outbreak among temporary foreign workers in the B.C. Interior (identified in news reports as Bylands Nursery in West Kelowna), raising the total cases in that outbreak to 20 cases.
In correctional centres located in B.C., there is one case at the Okanagan Correctional Centre in Oliver, while the number of cases at the Mission Institution in Fraser Valley has risen to 35 cases (including eight in hospital).
There are 137 patients in hospital with 58 of them in intensive care units.
There aren’t any new affected longterm care homes. The total number of cases in these 20 facilities (11 facilities in the Fraser Health and nine in Vancouver Coastal Health) is 254 people (159 residents and 97 staff).
Tragically, there have been 11 deaths over the past two days for a total of 69 fatalities. Dr. Henry said the deaths were primarily among people in longterm care homes.
A total of 905 people have recovered.
Travel and bad behaviour
While images in media and shared on social media depicting long lineups at ferries over the long weekend, raising concerns from residents in communities around the province, both Dix and Dr. Henry allayed fears that travel had increased.
B.C. Ferries had previously announced on April 3 that sailings on several routes were being reduced, and some even cancelled, due to drops in demand.
Dr. Henry said that B.C. Ferries is continuing to report over 80-percent declines in passengers on all of their routes, and she pointed out that essential travel needs to continue.
Citing figures provided by B.C. Ferries, Dix said that last year on major routes, 173,284 people travelled on B.C. Ferries from Thursday to Sunday on the 2019 Easter long weekend.
In contrast, he said that there were 14,633 people, or 92 percent less, who travelled within the same time holiday period this year.
When asked about individuals posting videos calling for defiance of health advisories and breaking rules, Dr. Henry said that she receives large amounts of emails about these issues and pointed out that part of the reason why some of these videos or posts may be getting large numbers of hits may be due to people watching them out of concern.
Nonetheless, she thinks that “the vast majority of people are doing what we need them to do”.
Dix said he has seen examples of people behaving badly and advised people to shift their attention away from such individuals and to instead concentrate on what needs to be done.
“What I’d say to people is focus on what we need to do together and don’t allow people who are attempting to promote themselves by using the suffering of others to distract us,” he said.
Both Dr. Henry and Dix had praise for British Columbians who are contributing their efforts to fighting the pandemic.
“Of course, it’s not perfect, and maybe it can’t be perfect…but I remain amazed and respectful at the same time of all those British Columbians who are sacrificing so much in this cause,” Dix said.