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B.C. records one new COVID-19 death, 25 more cases

Citynews 1130 Vancouver

Last Updated Apr 21, 2020 at 6:03 pm PDT

FILE - Dr. Bonnie Henry reported on April 3, 2020 that the number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 decreased to 146. (Courtesy Government of BC)

Reported new cases does not include all of the 28 related to an East Vancouver chicken processing plant

109 people remain in hospital with the virus, including 51 in intensive care

The recovery rate for COVID-19 remains around 60 per cent

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — The number of deaths related to COVID-19 in B.C. climbed to 87 on Tuesday, while total cases surpassed 1,700.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the additional death was a senior from a care home in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, and reported 25 new cases of the virus.

She added Tuesday’s update did not include all of the 28 cases related to an East Vancouver chicken processing plant.

RELATED: 28 cases of COVID-19 at East Vancouver chicken processing plant

Henry also reported the number of COVID-19 cases a Mission Institution, a federal prison, increased to 76, including 65 inmates.

Henry added the number of outbreaks at long-term care and assisted-living facilities — to which the majority of COVID-19 deaths in B.C. have been linked — held steady at 20.

She also said 109 people remain in hospital with the virus, including 51 in intensive care.

The recovery rate for COVID-19 remains around 60 per cent.

“It is not time to lessen our guard,” Henry said.

Returning to normal

When it comes to the timeline of life starting to return to normal, Henry again said it depends on how well public safety orders can be followed.

One industry of particular importance in B.C. is film and television, which also entails many people working closely together and possibly sharing equipment and even food while on set.

Henry said there are different risk levels to different industry and each will need guidance on how to keep people safe.

“There will be restrictions around numbers of people that can be in an area at one time, around the physical distancing, around the hand hygiene, around being absolutely certain that people are not coming into the environment if they have any illness,” she explained.

It might come down to wearing non-medical masks or other precautions to ensure people can work safely Henry said, and industries will need to find ways to stay in line with public safety orders.

“This is until we reach a point where we can get back to a much more normal and that has to do with the amount of immunity in our population and the behaviour of the virus over time,” she said.

Getting a vaccine will be the biggest step for life to start looking more like it did before the pandemic, but until then Henry said there are ways to open up the community again.

And for businesses where close contact is necessary, like dentist appointments and surgeries, Henry said work is already being done to sort this out.

For example, people will need to be separated in waiting rooms and staff will need to be vigilant and aware of how much contact they have with others.

“It’s not going to be, right away, back to how it was before when it was a lot of people sitting together for long times and then we have close contact with them.”

When a vaccine is possible, Henry said not everyone will have to get it, noting there aren’t any mandatory immunizations in Canada.

“But it is incredibly important that we do what we can to protect those who are most vulnerable to disease. So I would see people like health care workers being first in line for the vaccine, as well as our seniors and elders,” she said, adding people with compromised immune systems or underlying health conditions that put them at risk would also be prioritized.