More evidence that B.C. is flattening the curve of COVID-19 infections—but Dr. Bonnie Henry says risk remains high

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      Today, B.C.'s provincial health officer reported the lowest number of new COVID-19 cases over a 24-hour period since mid-March.

      Dr. Bonnie Henry said there were 29 new cases between April 2 and 3.

      It brings the total caseload in B.C. to 1,203 since the outbreak began in February.

      "I don't think I'm ready to say anything is a win yet, but every day we can bend that curve is a good thing," she said.

      Sadly, she reported three more deaths from COVID-19, bringing the total to 38.

      With 554 confirmed cases, Vancouver Coastal Health region has 45 percent of the number of positive tests across the province.

      Another 424 cases are in the Fraser Health region, with 128 in the Interior Heath region, 76 on Vancouver Island, and 21 in the Northern Health region.

      There has been one more outbreak in a long-term care home, bringing the total to 23. Most of those have been contained with only a single case detected, according to Henry, though there have been tragic outcomes in the Lynn Valley Care Centre and Haro Park Lodge.

      "As I have mentioned, this has been an area of particular focus we've been working on," Henry said.

      There are 149 people hospitalized and 68 in intensive-care units or critical care B.C. Another 704 British Columbians have fully recovered.

      Henry revealed a spike in the group in their late 20s to 40s. She attributed that to the high number of health-care workers in that demographic. None of the younger people who've contracted the novel coronavirus has died in B.C.

      She reiterated that "the risks remains very high for us right now in British Columbia".

      "We are in the thick of it," Henry emphasized. "We must hold our line. This is our time to be unwavering in our commitment to keep our firewall strong."

      At the same time, she repeated the importance of remaining socially connected with maintaining social distancing.

      UBC released this photo after reporting earlier this week that one of its professors, Dr. Josef Penninger, led a team that developed a trial drug to interrupt the novel coronavirus's capacity to infect human cells.
      IMBA/Tibor Kulcsar

      Province ramps up research

      Henry also revealed that a COVID-19 strategic research advisory committee has been created. It's headed by epidemiologist Dr. David Patrick. The former provincial health officer, Dr. Perry Kendall, is also on the committee.

      In addition, the province has allocated at least $2 million to the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research.

      It's working with the B.C. Centre for Disease Control in four areas:

      * transmission;

      * understand baseline susceptibility, which can help in determining when to conduct serologic tests;

      * an initiative to develop a vaccine, which is one of 25 such efforts taking place around the world;

      * and understanding how the "myriad of information" impacts people's behaviours. 

      The first research call will focus on a rapid evaluation of public-health countermeasures against the pandemic, which will include studying the impact of travel restrictions, the cancellation of classroom instruction, and social-distancing measures.

      "I want to thank everyone who has been involved in these research projects and the ones to come—and the Michael Smith Foundation in particular," Henry said.