As Canada-U.S. border closes to tourism, 45 new B.C. COVID-19 cases confirmed on March 18 but no new deaths

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      After the largest jump in COVID-19 cases in British Columbia was announced yesterday, today’s update from the province is about half of yesterday’s increase.

      Today (March 18), provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provided an update on COVID-19 cases in British Columbia.

      She stated that there are 45 new cases, bringing the total to 231. (On March 17, B.C. confirmed 83 new cases.)

      She explained that there are 144 cases in Vancouver Coastal Health Region, 58 in the Fraser Health Region, 16 on Vancouver Island, nine in the B.C. Interior, and four in the Northern Health region.

      One case is a resident of a longterm care centre in the Vancouver Coastal Health Region.

      Most patients are at home in self-isolation and 13 cases are hospitalized.

      The good news is that there are no new deaths. Yesterday, three new deaths brought the total to seven.

      The B.C. government declared a state of emergency today, following Dr. Henry's declaration of a public health emergency in B.C. yesterday. 

      Vancouver mayor Kennedy Stewart announced that the city is preparing to declare a state of emergency, which will be official after city council votes on it tomorrow (March 19).

      At the federal level, Canada and the United States agreed to temporarily restrict non-essential travel across the border in an attempt to stem the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak. However, key supplies will still be allowed to continue being transported between the two countries.

      Prime Minster Justin Trudeau announced the development at a news conference this morning (March 18) that travellers won’t be allowed to cross the border for recreational or tourism reasons.

      He stated that the measures would last as long as necessary.

      B.C. Premier John Horgan, who had previously raised concerns about points of entry to the province, stated in a news release that he is pleased with the federal border measures.

      B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer had also previously were in favour of restricting travel across the border.

      Washington state had 11 new deaths today, bringing the total number of deaths to 65, which is the highest in the U.S. and the number of confirmed cases exceed 1,000.

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