COVID-19 in Canada: B.C. announces pandemic plan while cases found in Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec

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      B.C. announced its pandemic response plan today as more COVID-19 cases have been detected in other Canadian provinces that are linked to travel in the U.S., France, Iran, and India.  

      At a news conference today (March 6), B.C. Premier John Horgan announced that he has appointed a deputy ministers’ committee (cochaired by Horgan and B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix) to oversee a B.C. Pandemic Provincial Coordination Plan.

      The plan covers actions for a possible pandemic with a focus on delaying, containing, and preparations for illness and economic impacts.

      The first phase, involving identification and containment of illness, is already in effect with a priority on delaying potential widespread community transmission.

      The second phase will increase cross-government coordination and will permit the use of emergency powers, with a focus on four main areas of protection and support.

      Population protection will entail increasing testing, preparing for high absence rates of employees, business and institution support, including grocery stores, public transportation, schools, and tourism industries.

      The protection of vulnerable citizens includes seniors in long-term care, assisted living, and more, and may involve reducing incoming individuals to these facilities, screening visitors, and increased testing of residents and healthcare workers.

      To protect healthcare workers, the plan involves managing medical supply chains and rapid deployment of additional workers to affected communities to increase capacity.

      To support healthcare capacity, emergency operation committees would be established across the province for local planning, including deferring scheduled surgeries and procedures, discharging low-risk patients, identifying new care spaces within hospitals, and more.

      Of the province’s 21 cases (which includes eight cases announced on March 5), four patients are fully recovered. One patient is in Vancouver General Hospital’s intensive care while all others are at home and being monitored by public health teams.

      The provincial government did not announce any specific actions regarding travel between Canada and the U.S.

      In Washington state, which has declared a state of emergency, three more deaths were announced today (for a total of 14) and the total number of cases has risen to 79.

      As of today, the B.C. Centre for Disease Control has tested 2,803 samples from 2,008 individuals.

      There are a total of 51 cases in Canada.

      The first case in Alberta, a woman in Calgary who had been aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship trip from San Francisco to Hawaii, was confirmed on March 5.

      Two more cases in Quebec were also announced on March 5, bringing that province’s total to three cases. The second case in the province is a patient who travelled to India while the third probable case is a woman who traveled to France.

      Ontario announced today (March 6) four new cases confirmed for a total of 26 in the province (four cases are resolved). Three are related to U.S. travel while a fourth, a male in his 50s, returned from Iran.

      Two of the cases are a married man and woman in their 60s who returned on from a Grand Princess cruise ship trip from San Francisco to Mexico in February.

      The remaining case is a man who returned from Las Vegas.

      More information about COVID-19 is available at the B.C. Centre for Disease Control website. 

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