VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced six more COVID-19 deaths in B.C. Thursday, including the first two on Vancouver Island.
She also reported 55 new cases of the novel coronavirus, as well as a community case at the Okanagan Correctional Centre.
The latter is an inmate, the first in B.C. to test positive.
Henry called the positive prison case “a community outbreak,” which the province had been concerned about and planning for.
A number of measures were put in place at the provincial prison in Oliver, as well as other facilities due to COVID-19.
“There has been an active surveillance program and this is the first test that has been positive in a facility here in British Columbia,” Henry said.
The Provincial Health Services Authority and Interior Health are managing the outbreak, she added.
On Friday, visitors were banned from Canada’s prisons, while a jail guard in Toronto tested positive for COVID-19.
According to reports, advocates are calling for vulnerable inmates to be released from prisons ill-equipped to handle the pandemic.
As for long-term care and assisted living facilities, Henry said 21 remain affected in B.C. — the same number as the previous day.
However, three of the six new deaths are related to two care homes in the Vancouver Coastal Health region.
Another death occurred in the Fraser Health Region, while two were on Vancouver Island – the first there related to COVID-19.
#BREAKING 6 more deaths recorded in #BC because of #COVID19 including first 2 on Vancouver Island. An in-mate at the Okanagan Correctional Centre is also first prisoner to test positive. Now, 55 new cases bring the total up to 1121. Of 149 in hospital, 68 in ICU. @NEWS1130
— Marcella Bernardo (@Bernardo1130) April 2, 2020
The six deaths are the most reported in a single day in B.C. and bring the total to 31.
“It’s a challenging time across the province,” Henry said, reiterating the need for everyone to continue with physical distancing and other health and safety orders.
“We now have more than a million cases of this disease worldwide. We know there’s a dramatic ongoing outbreak in the United States, and across Canada we’re seeing increased numbers of cases, particularly in our communities in Toronto, Ont. and Quebec.”
The total number of COVID-19 cases in B.C. has increased to 1,121, with 641 now recovered.
Henry said 149 people are currently hospitalized, with 68 in intensive care.
She added some travellers from a cruise ship, the Zaandam, will be flown home to B.C. after it docks in Florida. Henry said it’s important they are assessed and self-isolate upon their return.
“We know that these are such a high-risk setting.”
Henry also asked that all British Columbians restrict all non-essential travel, especially to smaller communities that might not have the resources to help should someone become ill.
“There are many small communities that are very concerned about people coming to vacation homes and fishing lodges,” she added, “and I am asking people now to forgo those types of travel.”
Health Minister Adrian Dix called for the federal government to enforce the Quarantine Act to ensure travellers returning to Canada follow orders.
“They have to self-isolate for 14 days when they come back from outside the province,” he said.