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21 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 27 now linked to Kelowna exposure

Citynews 1130 Vancouver

Last Updated Jul 16, 2020 at 8:08 pm PDT

FILE - Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. (Couresty B.C. Government, Flickr)
Summary

B.C. records 21 new COVID-19 cases for the second straight day

Dr. Bonnie Henry confirms 27 cases have now been linked to the Kelowna exposure

The outbreak at the Krazy Cherry Fruit Co. in Oliver now has four cases, says Dr. Henry

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — B.C. recorded 21 new COVID-19 cases Thursday for the second straight day.

Those also mark the sixth time in seven days the province has seen more than 20 cases, which now total 3,170 overall.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry also confirmed 27 cases have now been linked to the Kelowna exposure. Of those, 18 are people who live in the Interior Health Authority, while nine are in the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser health regions.

The outbreak at the Krazy Cherry Fruit Co. in Oliver now has four cases, she added.

B.C. recorded no new deaths related to the cornavirus. Total deaths remain at 189.

The province also reported no new outbreaks, while three remain active at long-term care or health facilities.

Of 192 active cases, 15 people are in hospital, including three in intensive care.

Earlier in the day, the province released results from a recent serology study, conducted by the BC Centre for Disease Control, UBC, and LifeLabs. It found less than one per cent of the population in B.C. has had COVID-19.

“The important part of the report is it shows that we have been very effective in flattening our curve here in British Columbia,” Henry said.

“So this has helped tell us that we still have very low levels of this virus, and we don’t yet know whether having these antibodies means that you’re protected or that you’re immune from this virus if you get exposed to it again,” she added.

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You probably need to have at least 60 per cent of the population to have immunity before that’s going to protect us all. So we are long ways from there.”

Henry said no country in the world has reached the point of herd immunity.

“What we need to get us to that level is an effective vaccine.”

Henry also addressed the record number of illicit drug overdose deaths in June.

The BC Coroners Service reported Thursday 175 deaths in June related to illicit substances, surpassing the previous high of 171 in May.

“This ongoing crisis reminds us that we need to put as much time and effort and kindness and compassion into caring for people who use drugs as we have been successful in doing in responding to the COVID-19 crises,” Henry said.

She added 80 per cent of overdose deaths involve young between 19 and 49 years old.

“Two-thirds of people died in their own home. And we know from the conversations we’ve had with family, with friends, that most of their family and friends did not know that they were using drugs, and many of them died alone,” she said.

“We are seeing very high levels of fentanyl and carfentanyl and other contaminants in not only in the opioids on our street, but also in stimulants and methamphetamine, and other drugs. Nobody is safe. Right now, we need people, we need clinicians to take the training, we need to support people who use drugs to access pharmaceutical alternatives.”

Health Minister Adrian Dix said changes the province made in March to support dispensing hydromorphone — an alternative opioid used for pain relief — has led to an increase of 190 per cent, up from 677 people in March to 1,962 in May.

Henry reiterated her call for decriminalization of illicit drugs for personal use.

“And I am calling again on the federal government to take this to heart, to take the advice of the chiefs of police, who know that this is an important step that we can move forward on together, and there’s no more important time for us to do that than now.”

Dix also pointed out that since the province relaxed restrictions to allow visitors at care homes in B.C. at the end of last month, 318 facilities have submitted safety plans — an increase of 257 since last week.