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Largest single-day increase in new COVID-19 cases since March as B.C. records three more deaths

Last Updated Apr 22, 2020 at 9:02 pm PDT

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

The number of new cases is 71, and follows four consecutive days when totals were under 30

All three of the new deaths involved people living at long-term care homes

Three new outbreaks reported at long-term care homes in the Fraser Health Authority

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — B.C. recorded three more COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday, as well as the largest single-day spike in new cases since March.

The 71 reported new cases follow four consecutive days when totals were under 30.

Some of the new cases are related to a chicken processing plant in East Vancouver, which was shut down Monday after 28 employees tested positive for the virus, while more are connected to new outbreaks at care homes.

A graph of new COVID-19 cases in B.C. (Courtesy B.C. Centre for Disease Control)

All three of the new deaths involved people living at long-term care homes, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said.

She also reported three new outbreaks at long-term care homes in the Fraser Health Authority.

Earlier in the day, a long-term care home in Maple Ridge — Chartwell Willow Retirement Community — confirmed 15 cases of COVID-19, including 12 residents.

”We continue to experience new community outbreaks in British Columbia, and this, of course, is very, very concerning, to me, and to all of us,” Henry said.

“This tells us that we have more work to do to break the chains of transmission in our communities.”

She says she understands people are tired of being away from loved ones.

However, “We can’t afford to have any weaknesses in our firewall if we are going to be able to move ahead into our new normal.”

Henry said anyone feeling ill must stay home, and employers must respect that, as well as have measures in place to ensure those at work are protected and can maintain a safe distance from one another.

Earlier Wednesday, Premier John Horgan said employees at the poultry plant went to work while sick.

He also said B.C. could reopen its economy sooner than the middle of May.

“The public can expect I’ll have something to say about how we open up sooner than the middle of May, but we need to be guided by the science,” he said during a briefing in Victoria.

Henry said businesses and sectors must address safety issues before restrictions are lifted and to prevent further outbreaks.

“If we start having these types of outbreaks and spread in our community, we can overwhelm our system.”

The total number of deaths from COVID-19 in B.C. is now 90 with the total number of cases now at 1,795.

Of all the cases, 1,079 have recovered, a rate of 60 per cent — unchanged from Tuesday.

Also Wednesday, Fraser Health announced outbreaks at five other care homes in the region have been declared to be over.