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B.C. records 145 new COVID-19 cases, coroner investigating dentist's death

Citynews 1130 Vancouver

Last Updated Mar 24, 2020 at 10:07 pm PDT

FILE - Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks about the number of coronavirus cases in B.C. (Courtesy of B.C. Government)

Dr. Henry confirms the death of a dentist who attended recent conference in Vancouver

B.C. Coroners Service is investigating the dentist’s death

Two more long-term care facilities record coronavirus cases

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry confirmed 145 new COVID-19 cases in B.C. on Tuesday, including two people at two more long-term care homes.

Henry said there are no new deaths to report, although she confirmed that of a dentist who attended a recent conference in Vancouver, where someone contracted coronavirus.

She added the B.C. Coroners Service is investigating the dentist’s death, and that people who were in contact with him were put into self-isolation.

“It certainly is possible it’s related,” Henry said of the dentist’s death and COVID-19.

“I will leave it to the coroner’s office to investigate that,” she added, “but we don’t respond to rumours, and we won’t be giving out information on individuals and their individual circumstances, particularly any of the individuals who died, out of respect to their families.”

The B.C. Coroners Service confirmed it is investigating the death of an individual who was at the dental conference. But it would be premature to comment on the cause of death until postmortem testing is complete, Andy Watson, with the coroner’s service, says in an email.

RELATED: Dentist who attended Vancouver conference has coronavirus

RELATED: B.C. dental college urges immediate halt to ‘non-essential’ visits due to COVID-19

Henry also confirmed 32 COVID-19 cases linked to the dental conference.

Of the newly reported cases, she said 67 were recorded on Monday after the morning provincial announcement, while the other 78 came in the following 24 hours.

And of those, she said two more are at long-term care facilities, adding to the six that already had confirmed cases of coronavirus.

The Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver, to which the majority of deaths in B.C. are linked, has recorded COVID-19 cases involving 42 residents and 21 staff.

At Haro Park Centre in Vancouver, 15 residents and 25 staff have been infected.

Evergreen Heights in White Rock and Little Mountain Place in Vancouver are new care homes with confirmed coronavirus cases.

Henry said a new order is coming around health-care workers being assigned to only one care facility.

The recorded number of coronavirus cases in B.C. is now 617.

Henry said of those, 173 have fully recovered. Meanwhile, 59 coronavirus patients remain in hospital, including 23 in intensive care.

The death total from coronavirus in B.C. remains at 13.

Testing capacity in the province has increased to approximately 3,500 tests a day, while 26,681 individuals have been tested as of Monday.

Henry was asked if coronavirus can be transmitted through sex and said she’s seen no evidence of that, although pregnant women are being monitored carefully.

However, she added, the COVID-19 can be transmitted through stool.

She reiterated physical distancing is important for all, as is maintaining social connections, and advised people to stay in touch with one another.

“None of us needs to get this virus,” she said.

Every day B.C. getting more cases at hospitals, but with testing and protection measures and distancing, Henry is hoping to break the chains of transmission, so B.C. doesn’t experience what other areas have, with hospitalization needs exploding.

Meantime, Health Minister Adrian Diz says making sure hospital staff and longterm care providers stay safe is a priority.

“It’s critical that health care workers are protected. They are a huge part of our system as part of our response,” he says. “But also the people they work with are vulnerable.”

Some doctors and nurses at Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster however, are disputing the minister’s comments.

They say they don’t feel safe because they’ve been directed by the Fraser Health Authority to limit the use of protective masks to only one per shift.