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Two COVID-19 deaths in B.C., outbreak over at Mission prison

Citynews 1130 Vancouver

Last Updated May 29, 2020 at 6:26 am PDT

FILE - Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. (Courtesy B.C. Government)
Summary

Both deaths happened in the Fraser Health Authority, where an outbreak at a long-term care home was reported Thursday

Dr. Bonnie Henry announced nine new cases of the virus, bringing the total in B.C. to 2,558

B.C.'s top doctor expects further restrictions to be lifted by mid-June

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — One of the largest outbreaks in B.C., at the federal prison in Mission, was declared over Thursday, when the province announced two more deaths at long-term care homes.

Both people who died were in the Fraser Health Authority, where an outbreak at Nicola Lodge, a long-term care home in Port Coquitlam, was reported earlier in the day.

B.C. has 16 active outbreaks at care facilities.

“The outbreak at the Mission federal correctional facility has now been declared over, as of yesterday, which means we have no new cases for two incubation periods,” Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said.

She added the Mission prison outbreak, which included 120 positive cases and one death, was one of the largest in the province, while commending the efforts to get it under control.

Henry also announced nine new cases of the virus, bringing the total in B.C. to 2,558, of which 241 remain active.

The number of people in hospital dropped by four to 33, including six in intensive care, a decline of one.

The recovery rate in B.C. remains at 84 per cent.

Changes to restrictions

Henry revised her order prohibiting the sale of merchandise at farmers’ markets in the province. They can now sell non-food items, while eating at tables is also allowed in small numbers, spaced apart, similar to restaurants.

“I think that’s an important thing, as well, because we know how important it is to have these community places where we can buy fresh food, and where we can have access to some of the local crafts and arts,” she said.

Regarding other restrictions, Henry said she expects those in the third phase of the province’s restart plan to begin to be lifted by mid-June.

“We know the incubation period is two weeks, so we are watching very carefully now because, as things are opening up, we may start to see cases increase. If we can do that in a slow and measured way, then by the middle of June we should absolutely be able to move out a little bit more,” she added.

 

“But I’m very hopeful. I would look forward to going to Whistler myself, or to one of the Gulf Islands, once we get to that place.”

Henry reiterated restrictions on the number of people who can gather in one place — no more than 50 — will remain.

Location of casesĀ 

Regarding geographic locations, she said she is looking at ways to share more COVID-19 data specific to postal codes or neighborhoods.

“The challenge that we face, and it’s a challenge that I talk to with my colleagues in Toronto, even very recently, is you look at the heat map and it’s based on numbers and it doesn’t tell you a story that you need to know to understand this,” she added.

“What the convention in public health is that we label cases by where they live. So it doesn’t tell you where they might have been exposed, it doesn’t tell you what community the risk was in. So those are the challenges that we face.”

She said such data in Ontario has shown that some lower-income or more ethnically diverse neighborhoods seem to have people who are more affected by the virus than others.

“And that type of data is what we are trying to look at here B.C., as well. We do find the challenge that we actually have few cases in many parts of the province. So again, it becomes identifiable information quite quickly.”

Care homes

Meanwhile, Health Minister Adrian Dix said 497 of 533 care facilities in B.C. have completed single-site plans for workers.

Of the 164 deaths from COVID-19 in B.C., 93 — or 57 per cent — were people in care homes.

Of the latter, 22 have happened at Langley Lodge.

Dix said many long-term care homes in B.C. are older facilities that need to be rebuilt, while conditions overall need to be improved.

“So we are delighted, of course, that other levels of government — the federal government — are interested in this and we’re going to focus on continuing to improve access in the system, including the need to rebuild long-term care facilities that are older in B.C. to modern standards,” he added.

“That’s what should be important right now.”