VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has declared a public health emergency as three more deaths are reported in B.C. due to COVID-19.
Two of the three recent deaths are linked to the Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver, Henry said, during her daily a press conference Tuesday afternoon. Six of province’s deaths have stemmed from the care home.
Bonnie adds the third death was a man in his 80s who died on Monday in hospital in the Fraser Health region.
— LizaYuzda (@LizaYuzda) March 17, 2020
In response to the deaths, the province decided to take an extra step to ensure the safety of British Columbians, Henry said.
“This is something that, as you know, we’ve had it as a tool in our toolkit for some time. And we felt that I felt that [Tuesday] was the tool. This is the tool that we need,” she said. “Now, we’ve taken a number of unprecedented measures in the last few days, and this declaration of an emergency enables me to be faster, more streamlined and nimble in the things that we need to do right now.”
She adds 83 more cases of COVID-19 have been recorded, bringing B.C.’s total to 186 and the death toll to seven. Henry says the new positive cases are partly due to increased testing and a backlog.
This has been the most significant spike in a single day as of Tuesday.
re: rural areas and four cases in northern #BC, Henry says focus of testing is on areas where people are most at risk. re: support from #Ottawa and convincing people to stay home, Henry says she understands people are worried about being able to pay their bills. @NEWS1130
— Marcella Bernardo (@Bernardo1130) March 17, 2020
Henry says the spread of the virus is now affecting other parts of the province, including the northern region and Vancouver Island.
Henry says she’s no longer confident bars and clubs can ensure patrons are kept a safe distance apart and ordered them, to close.
“Restaurants and cafes, in some cases, can meet criteria for physical distancing, but those who can not maintain the physical distancing will need to close or to move to take out and delivery services,” she said.
Canadians also learned Ontario recorded its first death, Tuesday, bringing the country’s total to eight.
In Canada, 424 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed as of March 17.