B.C.’s restrictions on gatherings, travel, schools and restaurants are showing results as the province plans for its coronavirus hospital needs for the critical next two weeks, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says.
Henry released the B.C. government’s modelling March 27, showing B.C.’s rate of growth in COVID-19 cases has slowed slightly compared to the rest of Canada, and is tracking within B.C. hospital capacity for expected severe cases.
Nearly 4,000 hospital beds have been cleared for increased severe cases in the weeks ahead, including intensive care beds with ventilators.
B.C.’s schools went onto spring break on March 14, and closing bars and other restrictions also took effect as B.C. started to see community transmission cases rather than just overseas travellers. By March 16 most people understood the need and changed their behaviour, Henry said.
“Our rate of growth is being impacted in a positive way by the measures we have adopted in the last few weeks, which is good news,” Henry said at a briefing in Victoria. “We are not out of the woods by any means yet. We will still need to track this carefully and still need to continue these measures that we’re taking.”
Henry emphasized that the B.C. Centre for Disease Control modelling is not a prediction, it is a set of scenarios done for planning purposes, and it will continue.
“We’re a little bit ahead of the rest of Canada,” Henry said. South Korea’s success in flattening the infection curve is B.C.’s goal.
The B.C. Centre for Disease Control continues to track cases and compare them to international rates including Italy, Spain and Hubei province in China, where the novel coronavirus originated late in 2019.
B.C. health authorities have identified 17 “primary COVID” hospital care sites, and is planning to use all hospital sites as needed to meet demand. Total ventilator-capable beds currently are at 705, including beds and equipment usually used for surgical patients.
Excluding maternity, pediatrics, mental health, rehab and palliative care beds, B.C.’s bed capacity is 1,447 in Fraser Health, 1,007 for Interior Health, 1,424 for Island Health, 412 for Northern Health and 1,320 for Vancouver Coastal Health.