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B.C. records just two new cases, but three COVID-19 deaths

Citynews 1130 Vancouver

Last Updated May 19, 2020 at 9:01 pm PDT

FILE -Langley Lodge has experienced two outbreaks of COVID-19. (Courtesy Google Maps)

Three more people in B.C. died from COVID-19, all of them in long-term care

The total number of deaths from the virus in B.C. is now 146

Dr. Henry willing to considering allowing family reunification at border

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — The province recorded two new COVID-19 cases on the fist day B.C. allowed businesses to begin reopening as part of its restart plan.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry also announced three more people died from COVID-19, all of them in long-term care.

One of the deaths involved Langley Lodge, where a second outbreak was announced last week.

An employee of Langley Lodge was first reported to be in isolation at the end of March, but that outbreak was later declared over. A second staff member there tested positive for the virus late last month.

Henry said 43 residents and seven staff total at the facility have contracted the virus, while eight people from Langley Lodge have now died from COVID-19.

“So, yes, that reflects transmission within the facility and I know that Fraser Health [Authority] has been working very hard with the facility to try and make sure that all of the provisions that they need are put in place, but it has been proven to be a very challenging one.”

Henry said 14 outbreaks remain active in care facilities, while the total number of deaths from the virus in B.C. is now 146. The recovery rate climbed to 81 per cent.

“As people in B.C. are no doubt aware, today’s an important milestone for our province,” Henry said. “Today’s the first day that many businesses can begin to reopen for employees, customers and business owners. I want to reassure you that we would not be easing these restrictions if we did not feel we could do so safely.”

While Canada-U.S. border restrictions were extended earlier in the day to June 21, Health Minister Adian Dix said it will be a while before they are loosened to allow non-essential travel.

I’m not convinced there’s much chance that it will clear sufficiently in the next month to change, at least my mind, about whether we should open the border,” he said.I think it’s going to be significantly longer than that for visitors.”

However, Henry is reluctant to start screening at provincial borders, but remains open to family reunification across the Canadian-U.S. border.

“Now that we know what has happened in many parts of the U.S., we do need to think about ways of allowing families to be together across our border,” she said.

“That doesn’t mean, though, it’s a free-for-all, but I think we, what my recommendations are, is that we continue to require isolation plans and that we have a process in place, but that we expand the people who are allowed to come across the border to include people who are, who have family or who are residents and some form of family reunification.”

Henry was also asked about a spate hate crimes in Vancouver, especially those with anti-Chinese sentiment.

“The only way that we can get through this incredibly challenging and terribly difficult time is by being together and working together, and being considerate and kind to each other,” she said. “There is no one race that is affected by this, there is no one age group, there’s no one sex, it’s all of us in together, who need to work together and support each other, and have compassion to get us through this. And there is no place, no place in our society for racism.”

Dix added COVID-19 has affected more than 100 countries.

“It seems seems to me that racism represents the opposite of what we need to do, something we need to condemn, something that that undermines everything we’re trying to do together as a society,” he said.

Henry was also asked again about wearing non-medical masks and said said they are an additional measure to keep droplets in and protect others.

“So it’s not something you do instead of, but we should be, I believe, at this point, prepared to wear a non-medical mask in certain situations where we cannot maintain our physical distance,” she added.

“So if I’m sitting on a bus and there’s somebody that is three feet away from me instead of six feet away from me, if we both have masks on, that’s a good thing. If I’m getting my hair done, which I expect to do hopefully soon, you know, I will wear a mask and so will my person who’s doing my hair so that we can protect each other for that period of time.”

To date, B.C. has recorded 2,446 cases of the virus, while 325 are active. Of those, 45 people remain in hospital, including 12 in intensive care.

The province did not report any new outbreaks Tuesday, when B.C. began the second phase of its economic restart plan.

Dix said elective surgeries have resumed at 49 sites across B.C.,while nearly 15,000 N95 masks have been delivered in past week, along with 786,000 surgical masks and 15 million gloves.