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No new COVID-19 deaths in B.C. over past three days as province moves towards Phase 3

Citynews 1130 Vancouver

Last Updated Jun 15, 2020 at 8:52 pm PDT

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

Province records 36 more cases while preparing to ease more restrictions

B.C. has now reported no deaths on nine out of the past 10 days

The outbreak at the South Granville Park Lodge, a long-term care home, has been declared over

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — B.C. recorded no new deaths over the past three days, but had 36 more cases while preparing to ease more restrictions.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry also announced the outbreak at the South Granville Park Lodge, a long-term care home, has been declared over, as has the one at the Kearl Lake oilsands camp in Alberta. That province has ended its state of emergency in connection to the virus.

She added outbreaks remain active at four health-care facilities, but reported no new ones.

B.C. has 182 active cases of COVID-19, including 13 people in hospital, four of whom are intensive care.

With the new cases, the provincial total increased to 2,745, with a recovery rate of 87 per cent.

B.C. has now reported no deaths on nine out of the past 10 days, with the total holding at 168.

With that, Henry was asked if B.C. could move into the third phase of its COVID-19 restart plan this week?

“Maybe,” she answered.

But that doesn’t mean an easing of health and safety measures.

“We’re continuing to watch, looking at the numbers. But, you know, it’s not a, ‘Yes, we’re in Phase 3.’ It’s a gradual increasing of the things that we’re doing,” she said.

“In many parts of our province where we have not had new cases in some time, it may feel almost like back to normal,” Henry added.

“And I know many people have connected with friends they haven’t seen for a while, or getting back to work and school and making plans for the summer, and next week the B.C. legislature will be back in session. It is easy sometimes when we are in this place that we’re in to lose sight of the fact that this pandemic is far from over. There continues to be no effective treatment, and the virus will continue in our communities for many months to come. Part of the reason that we have so few cases in the province is because we have been doing our part to ensure that we’re taking those measures to keep this virus from spreading.”

Henry said health officials are looking to slowly ease more restrictions, but must do so carefully, pointing to a resurgence in cases elsewhere, from South Korea to Singapore to Washington State.

“We also know that it’s happened here in B.C., where we’ve had clusters where people have gathered and somebody has inadvertently spread it to many of their close contacts and family members. We’ve had clusters very recently in a fast-food restaurant,” she said.

Henry reiterated the ban on gatherings of more than 50 people will remain in place.

Regarding travel, she said the province is looking to transition to safe travel within the province.

“That’s what we’ve been saying for this summer, we want people to experience B.C., to stay home, to travel within B.C., but to do it in a way that doesn’t put undue burden on the place that you’re going.”

Regarding schools, Henry said no cases have been reported since they opened to more students two weeks ago.

“‘I’ve had lots of really cool notes from happy children who’ve gone back and at least been able to see their friends,” Henry said. “And I think the measured way that we’ve done it has made it easier for everybody to learn how to adapt, and we’ve learned that, as we did with the restaurant orders and guidelines we had in place, some things are just not workable, and you need to find a better way to do them.”

Henry said nightclubs will not be reopening as such, but some are looking at repurposing their operations to meet health and safety guidelines.

“So it is going to be challenging because we know there are some things like dance floors that are not going to happen right now,” adding singing in a group can lead to further spread.

“So those are all things that we’ll need to work through and I know WorkSafe is working with the industry to come up with some reasonable guidance for that.”

She also said the province is struggling with lifting restrictions to allow visitors at care homes as the risk of transmission remains high.

Henry added the province’s COVID-19 survey has concluded and she expects to report some preliminary findings soon.