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B.C. seeks feedback on pandemic, records one death, seven cases

Citynews 1130 Vancouver

Last Updated May 13, 2020 at 8:55 am PDT

Summary

People can express interest in participating in studies, including one on serology blood testing to determine immunity

Henry also reported no new outbreaks on Tuesday, while total deaths increased to 131 and cases rose to 2,360

397 cases remain active in the province, with 63 people in hospital, including 16 in intensive care

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — The provincial government launched a survey Tuesday to gather feedback on experiences and actions during the COVID-19 pandemic, while one new death and seven new cases were recorded.

As part of the survey, people can express interest in participating in studies, including one on serology blood testing to determine immunity.

“I know that will appeal to a lot of people, so I encourage you to look at this survey,” said Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

Another study will gather advice and support about how to use technology to coordinate information sharing and contact tracing in B.C.

“The information that we gather will help inform the decisions that we make in the weeks and months ahead,” she added.

Henry also reported no new outbreaks on Tuesday, while total deaths increased to 131 and cases rose to 2,360.

The person who passed away was in long-term care in the Fraser Health region.

So far, 1,832 people have recovered from the virus in B.C., a rate of 77 per cent.

Henry added 397 cases remain active in the province, with 63 people in hospital, including 16 in intensive care.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the number of hospital beds available in the province is 3,760, with occupancy up to 66 per cent. He added critical care occupancy remains under 50 per cent.

Dix also said the province saw 5,354 visits to emergency rooms on Monday, up from around 3,000 a day in early April.

“And that reflects, I think, what’s returned to a little bit of normalcy in the health care system and that people are feeling confident about visiting the emergency room,” he added.

Henry doesn’t expect many visitors to B.C. in the coming months, though, particularly on cruise ships.

“We are, as you can imagine, not in favour of cruise ships coming into anywhere in British Columbia, and I can tell you that my conversations with my counterparts in the Yukon, and also in Alaska and Washington State are similarily not expecting to have cruise ships in our waters or in our ports in the coming weeks and months.”

She said the orders in B.C. will stand until at least July 1.

She also said there are no changes regarding the 14-day isolation period for people entering B.C. from outside the country, and that would include NHL players.

Premier John Horgan was to talk with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman on Tuesday about the possibility of Vancouver being a hub city to host games, should the league resume playing.

Henry said the ability to monitor to care for people, to make sure that testing is available, would be part of her criteria, if that were to happen.

“I have not yet seen a proposal that has those types of details. So I think it is very much in the theoretical phase right now,” she said.

“But, you know, I think we could look at the probabilities and possibilities if and when they come forward with a proposal.”

Henry is also open to the idea of having restaurants keep a daily log of customer contact information for 30 days to assist with tracing should an outbreak occur.

“We have those requirements for places like massage places, spas — places where you can understand who the customers have been. I think that’s a really good idea.”

Regarding wet markets in B.C., Henry said they are a source of food for many communities and how people get access to protein.

“I think there’s a difference between that type of market and the illegal trade in exotic animals for food, which is a very different thing that often happens around the same places,” she added.

“But we have seen in many countries in the world that if you put in the appropriate infection prevention and control measures in wet markets, they can be very safe. So I think there are two things that need to be dealt with and, in particular, the illegal trade in exotic animals for food or for other measures is something that needs to looked at and, in my mind, there needs to be restrictions put in place around that, and that is a very challenging thing to do.”

With some restrictions being lifted next week, and people allowed to gather in groups of up to six people, Henry was asked for advice to those who are considering dating, and whether the virus can be spread through kissing.

“This is a respiratory virus that spreads through droplets, so, yes, we’ve seen it with other diseases that can be spread this way. So, yes, I would expect that if somebody was sick with it and they were kissing somebody else, they could actually, quite effectively pass it on that way,” she said.

“But if you are going to start a relationship with somebody, this is not the time for rapid serial dating.”