COVID-19: As B.C. case numbers approach 900, more workers return to healthcare system to join fight

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      While the number of COVID-19 cases continue to climb in British Columbia, some encouraging news is that almost half the cases have now recovered and former healthcare professionals are continuing to return to provide their skills during the health crisis.

      At a news conference in Victoria, Dr. Henry announced that 92 new cases have been confirmed within the past 24-hour period, which has caused the provincial total to rise to 884 cases in total.

      The amount is the highest daily increase during the outbreak. However, Dr. Henry explained that the growth rate percentage, which she stated yesterday appears to be lowering, has not increased.

      As some of the measures were implemented the week of March 15, people who have been exposed within the past few weeks are continuing to become sick due to the approximate 14 day period before symptoms appear.

      That includes 444 cases in Vancouver Coastal Health, 291 in the Fraser Health, 77 in Interior Health, 60 on Vancouver Island, and 12 in Northern Health.

      There are now 12 longterm care homes with at least one confirmed case (six in the Vancouver Coastal Health region and six in the Fraser Health region). Dr. Henry did not identify the new care homes.

      In hospitals, there are a total of 81 patients, with 52 of those in intensive care units. That includes 39 cases in Fraser Healthy, 31 cases in Vancouver Coastal Health, six cases in Interior Health, three cases on Vancouver Island, and two in Northern Health.

      Unfortunately, there is one new death (in the Vancouver Coastal Health region), raising the total to 17 deaths.

      The good news is that 45 percent of all B.C. cases have now fully recovered, according to Dr. Henry. B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix stated that there 121 new recoveries, with a total of 396 recoveries in the province.

      When asked why the recovery rate appears to be so high, Dr. Henry explained that many of these cases are young healthcare workers who had mild symptoms early on during the onset of the pandemic (such those at longterm care homes).

      Dr. Bonnie Henry

      Dix said that they are continuing to see notable numbers of healthcare professionals re-registering in the B.C. healthcare system, including 28 new doctors since yesterday and 309 nurses.

      Regarding calls for lockdowns, Dr. Henry explained that B.C. has sought to take a “strategic” and “thoughtful and purposeful way” instead of having “blanket restrictions on certain things”, such as how schools were closed, while supporting essential service workers (such as in grocery stores or healthcare) who require childcare.

      In addition, she said that they are also working to ensure support for children “who are most disadvantaged by the closing of physical classrooms” exists and are able to continue on from an extended closure.

      On March 27, Dr. Henry stated that they have begun to see some shift in the rate of growth that may be attributable to the measures implemented, such as social distancing, closure of services and businesses, and cancellation of large gatherings. 

      Both Dr. Henry and Dix repeatedly emphasized the importance of everyone continuing to maintain the measures introduced to help slow down the spread of the coronavirus during what Dr. Henry called a "critical time".

      Meanwhile south of the border, the United States not only surged past both Italy and China to become the country with the most cases in the world but it also became the first country to report over 100,000 cases.

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