COVID-19 in B.C.: Arrivals in B.C. from outside Canada, including foreign workers and returning Canadians

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      While the provincial government extended the state of the emergency, B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provided information about what has been done so far to monitor people entering B.C. from outside Canada, including temporary foreign workers. 

      Daily update

      In the B.C. update for April 29, Dr. Henry confirmed that there have been 34 new cases over the past day, bringing the cumulative total for the province to 2087 cases. 

      There have been 811 cases in Vancouver Coastal Health, 941 cases in Fraser Health, 120 in Vancouver Island Health, 169 in Interior Health, and 46 in Northern Health.

      Two new longterm care facilities—Clayton Heights in Surrey and Langley Lodge in Langley (which had previously recovered from an outbreak), which each have one case—have raised the total number of facilities with current outbreaks to 24 locations (252 residents and 152 staff).

      There have been a total of 13 outbreaks at longterm facilities that are over. 

      At the affected food processing plants, the number of cases at the Superior Poultry outbreak in Coquitlam has risen from 46 to 50 while United Poultry in East Vancouver has increased from 34 to 42 cases. 

      There aren’t any new cases at Mission Institution correctional facility outbreak, which remains with 120 cases (108 inmates and 12 staff). 

      Dr. Henry provided an update on the outbreak at the Pacific Dental Conference held in Vancouver from March 5 to 7. She said there have been total of 87 people associated with the conference who have tested positive for the virus and one death (Dr. Denis Vincent of North Vancouver), as previously reported. 

      There are now 89 people in hospital, down from 94 yesterday, including 35 intensive care unit patients.

      Four new deaths have increased the provincial fatality total to 109 deaths. Dr. Henry said all four deaths were among seniors from longterm care facilities. 

      A total of 1,305 people have now recovered.

      B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry with Health Minister Adrian Dix
      Province of British Columbia

      Arrivals in B.C.

      She emphasized the need to continue monitoring everyone coming into B.C. from outside Canada. 

      Dr. Henry said that so far, there have been over 15,000 Canadians returning home who have been assessed since April 10 after provincial measures enhanced federal requirements for border entries.

      She said that they have reviewed over 4,000 self-isolation plans, provided over 350 people with additional support for their plans, and provided accommodations for almost 100 people. 

      Quarantine support for temporary foreign workers—including medical and social support, and accommodations—has been provided to 900 agricultural workers who have been arriving over the past few weeks.

      So far, four foreign workers from four different flights have tested positive for the coronavirus, she said. 

      Dr. Henry said that while B.C.’s testing strategy has changed since the beginning of the pandemic (from broad testing narrowing to specific criteria, then back to broad testing), she said that testing will continue to change over the course of the pandemic.

      However, she said that random testing of individuals who have no symptoms is “of very little value to us with the current test that we have”. She said that type of testing leads to both false positive and false negative test results.

      “It’s not a reliable mechanism to understand what is happening in our communities when it’s used that way,” she said.

      State of emergency

      B.C. Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth officially extended the state of emergency to May 12 to support provincial government measures under the Emergency Program Act.

      This is the third time Farnworth has extended the state of emergency, which was originally declared on March 18, following Dr. Henry’s declaration of a public health emergency.

      The actions that the provincial government has taken during the state of emergency have included relocating people from Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park and Victoria’s Topaz Park and on Pandora Avenue into temporary accommodations; enabling police to issue $2,000 violation tickets to price gougers and the resale of medical supplies and essential goods; and reducing monthly rent for small businesses, in partnership with the federal government.

      Dr. Henry said that the provincial government will be providing details next week about their plans to reopen parts of the province.

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook.

      For those concerned about visiting a doctor's office because of the pandemic, a telehealth provider can put them in contact with physicians and other health-care professionals.