The province recorded 21 new cases and three new deaths due to COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, B.C. health officials said in a joint statement Wednesday (May 20).
The jump in cases followed three days of single-digit increases that had many feeling hopeful as restrictions loosened and B.C. entered Phase Two of its COVID-19 recovery plan. B.C. is now up to 2,467 total test positive cases, 317 of which are currently active, and a total of 149 deaths. Two of Wednesday’s deaths were in the Fraser Health area, while the other was in Vancouver Coastal Health.
There was also a new COVID-19 outbreak at the The Cedars, an assisted living facility in Mission. Two outbreaks at the Ridge Meadows Hospital have been declared over and a total of 15 longterm care facilities and three acute care units have active outbreaks.
There are 43 people in hospital due to the virus, with 10 of them in ICU.
The novel coronavirus has an incubation period of up to 14 days, although symptoms can show up earlier. The Mother’s Day weekend (May 9-10), during which record-breaking hot temperatures saw many British Columbians head to beaches and parks, would be within that incubation period. Many on social media were concerned with what they perceived as a lack of physical distancing over Mother’s Day weekend, although at the time, Dr. Bonnie Henry said people were being “reasonable” in enjoying the outdoors.
“The vast majority of them were in small groups, they were sitting apart from each other,” she said of those gathered.
In Wednesday’s joint statement, Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said B.C.’s plan to restart its economy and increase social interaction “has been given careful thought and consideration,” with safety as the number one factor.
“Our ‘new normal’ is different from the way we have done things before, but we can reopen our schools and our businesses, and increase our connections in a way that is safe for everyone,” officials said.
The statement mentioned federal officials’ recommendation made earlier in the day that Canadians wear face non-medical masks in public when they cannot physically distance.
“When it is difficult to keep a safe physical distance for an extended period of time – for example, when you are on transit – this is a good way for you to protect those around you,” officials continued.
“We have to remember that face coverings keep our droplets in and don’t prevent transmission from others. The best ways for us to stay safe is to wash our hands, maintain a safe physical distance from others and keep our ‘rules’ for social interactions top of mind.”
Total COVID-19 cases, by health authority: 885 in Vancouver Coastal Health, 1,214 in Fraser Health, 126 in Island Health, 182 in Interior Health and 60 in Northern Health.
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