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B.C. records three more COVID-19 deaths, 15 new cases, no new community outbreaks

Last Updated May 15, 2020 at 6:42 am PDT

FILE - Health Minister Adrian Dix and Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.'s provincial health officer, made further announcements regarding COVID-19 on Monday, March 16, 2020. (Courtesy B.C. government)

All three deaths occurred in the Fraser Health region, Health Minister Adrian Dix said

The recorded number of deaths from COVID-19 in B.C. is up to 135

The total number of people who have recovered from COVID-19 is now 1,885, a rate of 79 per cent

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — B.C. recorded three more COVID-19 deaths and 15 new cases Thursday, but no new outbreaks.

All three deaths occurred in the Fraser Health region, Health Minister Adrian Dix said.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry also confirmed two deaths at a care home in Langley that had two separate outbreaks.

An employee of Langley Lodge was in isolation at home after testing positive for the virus in March.

RELATED: New COVID-19 case at second Langley care home

Another staff member at Langley Lodge contracted the virus late last month, after the previous outbreak had been declared over by the Fraser Health Authority.

“The initial outbreak was declared when there was a single staff person who was identified, and there was no additional cases in the outbreak period related to that person, so that lodge was deemed out of outbreak, and then, unfortunately, there has been another introduction and that’s where the outbreak was declared again,” Henry said.

“So it was not related to the initial one, and the investigation continues to try and determine how it came in,” she added.

“But this is the challenge that we have, and, you know, one of the reasons why we’ve put in place this provision around people not working in more than one place. It’s very challenging, and it continues to be challenging to manage this virus when it gets into a long-term care home.”

Dix said 495 of 545 long-term care and assisted-living facilities are now in compliance with the province’s single-site plan, restricting employees to working at one site. That is an increase of 130 since last week.

He also said federal funding to top-up employee wages in that sector is not expected to flow in until early to mid-June, but will be retroactive.

“While employees have not yet received an increase in their hourly wages to level up to union wages in accordance with the terms of the single-site staffing framework, work is underway to guide wage-levelling to disperse funding and monitor commitments and expenditure,” Dix added.

He said total funding will be about $10 million a month.

The total number of deaths from COVID-19 in B.C. is now 135, while recorded cases are up to 2,392.

Of the 372 active cases in the province, 58 people are in hospital, including 12 in intensive care — both down again from the day before.

The total number of people who have recovered from COVID-19 is now 1,885, a rate of 79 per cent.

Fraser Health announced earlier in the day that outbreaks were over at three care facilities in the region, as well as at Superior Poultry Processors in Coquitlam.

Reopening the province carefully

Henry said the province will be watching closely as businesses and services start again next week.

She adds it will take 14 to 28 days to assess the second phase of the province’s restart plan and the third part won’t move ahead unless there is no dramatic increase in transmission of the virus.

“We have put a proposal for the next phase and for the things that we’ll be considering in the next phase, but those are all contingent on watching what’s happening,” she said.

“We’ll be starting to look over the next couple of weeks of how we can support the different groups that we’ve talked about that will be coming in, in the next phase, Phase 3. But the exact timing of that has intentionally been left blank because it will so much depend on how things go in the coming, two to four weeks.”

Part of that, Henry said, will be maintaining a safe physical distance from others, including on public transit.

“And we’re also looking at, you know, what is the place for other things, like short-term wearing of non-medical masks in the transit system, and that is certainly an option for people, even now.”

She also encouraged people to consider others means of transportation for commuting.

“So whether that’s why you’re running or biking, those are the things that we need to also encourage in the coming weeks and months as ways that we can protect ourselves and be a safe and also in some exercise along the way,” Henry said.

“So I think this is an opportunity to look at how we can restructure some things in our communities, to make biking and walking and to work, active transit transport to work more effective and easier for people.”

Henry added the province’s new COVID-19 survey was taken online 165,000 times in the first two days.

Meanwhile, since the province announced it would begin rescheduling elective surgeries, more than 6,800 patients have been contacted to about setting dates.