Although the province entered its sixth consecutive day without any new deaths to report and the number of new cases remain low, B.C. has hit a new record number of deaths due to the province’s other health emergency that remains ongoing: the overdose crisis.
A new report from the B.C. Coroners Service released today (June 11) revealed that 170 British Columbians died in May, which represents a 93 percent increase over the 88 deaths in May 2019. B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry spoke about this issue at today’s daily B.C. COVID-19 update (June 11), as covered in further detail in this Georgia Straight article.
Meanwhile, B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix echoed what provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Premier John Horgan have also raised concerns about—how B.C. may be impacted by the worsening pandemic in neighbouring regions and around the world.
Dix noted that the number of COVID-19 cases in the world hit a record high for a single day this past week, along with several places such as India, Brazil, Oregon, California, and Arizona also recording their highest numbers of cases for one day.
“Physical distancing saves lives,” Dix reiterated once again as a reminder that despite what number of cases are in B.C., people need to continue practising safe healthy measures as the pandemic remains ongoing.
Dr. Henry stated that there have been 14 new cases confirmed, resulting in the cumulative total number of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 to 2,694 for the province.
So far, there have been 917 cases in Vancouver Coastal Health, 1,386 in Fraser Health, 130 in Island Health, 195 in Interior Health, and 66 in Northern Health.
There are 183 active cases in the province, with 13 people in hospital (five patients are in intensive care units).
A total of 2,344 people (87 percent) have recovered.
No new healthcare outbreaks were announced today, leaving the total active number at five outbreaks at longterm care facilities.
Dr. Henry said that there aren’t any new community clusters, and that the outbreak linked to the Kearl Lake oilsands project in Alberta appears to be ending and she anticipated that it should be resolved by next week.
As there haven’t been any new deaths, the total number of fatalities remains at 167 people who have died.
Revisions to restaurant requirements
After feedback from barriers and inspectors, Dr. Henry said that her provincial health officer orders have been revised for food and drink establishments.
While the order previously limited these businesses to a maximum of 50 precent capacity, she said that each establishment can now identify a specific number for their maximum capacity of patrons and staff on the premises, including patio seating, that will still allow for physical distance requirements.
Dr. Henry explained that a defined capacity will allow them to better understand “how to enforce the rules”.
She said the revisions clarifies use of plexiglass barriers, which can be used if a two-metre distance is not possible between tables. More than six patrons are not allowed to be seated at a table.
Self-serve areas and buffets are required to have hand sanitizing or handwashing facilities or stations close by, signs reminding patrons to clean their hands before touching any items, and frequent cleaning and sanitization of all repeatedly touched surfaces.
In addition, she said that staff must monitor all lineups or areas of congregation.
More on NHL proposal
While Dr. Henry thinks it would be “a very good thing” for hockey to resume in Vancouver, she emphasized that she will stand her ground when it comes to B.C. health.
“Let me be very clear: there are no exceptions to the rules or the public health guidelines that are in effect here in B.C., and in no way will we compromise all the work that we have done and the health of British Columbians for the NHL or any other group,” she said.
She said that she reviewed the NHL plan, which she said is for activities to take place in late summer or autumn, and said that it “exceeds the requirements that we have in place even today and it meets our criteria for protecting our community without compromise”.
While each team will become a social bubble and quarantine as one group, she said that all those involved would be subject to “intense testing and screening during the entire time” that would go beyond the 14-day quarantine period.
Teams will not allowed to have contact with public, spectators, or families, and they will remain within their bubbles the entire time they are in the province—Dr. Henry likened it to a work quarantine. She added that games will be played without spectators present.
If someone among the teams tests positive, she said there will be a plan for the isolation of that team, as well as provisions for how the entire tournament might be affected, but she did not provide any particular details.
She said that she has written to Ottawa based on the proposal.