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Care home staff to work at only one site as COVID-19 deaths in B.C. reach 50

Last Updated Apr 9, 2020 at 4:50 pm PDT

FILE - Dr. Bonnie Henry during a provincial update on COVID-19 on April 6, 2020.

COVID-19 deaths in B.C. reach 50 with two additional deaths reported

Province announces change to ensure staff are only working at one care home facility

More than 800 people who have tested for COVID-19 have recovered

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — While the number of people who have died from COVID-19 rose to 50 in B.C., an outbreak has ended at one care home.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced two more deaths from COVID-19 on Thursday, with a majority of those involving care homes. One person was from the Vancouver Health region and the other was from the Fraser Health Authority.

Henry also reported a previous outbreak at one care home is now over, bringing down the number of affected facilities to 20, with 235 cases linked to those care homes.

“We recognize that residents of long-term care and assisted living are very vulnerable to COVID-19,” she says, adding it has been challenging since many care providers and healthcare workers have needed to work at multiple facilities.

Henry says that has been “part of the tragedy we’re dealing with.”

In response, the province is officially implementing a process to make sure healthcare workers of all kinds only work at a single site.

“And to be able to do that in a way that is effective, and able to give support to staff who are continuing to respond courageously to the monumental challenges that we’re facing, and to do their very best, and the very best we can do to protect our elders and seniors in long-term care and assisted living,” Henry says.

This comes as an order under the Public Health Act and the Emergency Programs Act, and she says it is vital to preventing further transmission of the virus while protecting seniors.

“This is another step in long-term care that we know will make a difference,” Henry says. “Taking care of our frontline healthcare workers so they can care for us is another important piece.”

Health Minister Adrian Dix explains there is a transition framework for health authorities, non-profits, and private facilities to make sure there will be wage and scheduling stability. Employee preferences will be taken into consideration as well.

While Canada continues to respond to the crisis, Henry says everyone must also do all they can to keep “our firewall strong.”

As the long weekend approaches among many faith-based holidays, she stressed the importance of staying home and connecting virtually.

“We are not over the hump yet, and we are going to have a bumpy ride for a while,” Henry says.

She recognized the difficulty of relying on virtual connections and encouraged anyone struggling to reach out to their doctor or other resources like Anxiety Canada or Bounce Back BC.

So far, 858 people who have tested for COVID-19 have recovered.