Just 12 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., as number of patients in ICU falls below 10

Just 12 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., as number of patients in ICU falls below 10

B.C. reported just 12 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, as the number of coronavirus patients in intensive care dropped below 10 for the first time in two months.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said B.C. has now confirmed a total of 2,479 COVID-19 cases, more than 81 per cent of which have recovered.

The province also reported three new deaths, two of them in long-term care, bringing B.C.’s COVID-19 death toll to 152.

Of the remaining 307 active cases in the province, 43 people are in hospital due to the virus and just eight are in intensive care.

An outbreak at East Vancouver’s United Poultry plant has now been declared over.

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However, Henry reported a case at a third correctional facility in the province.

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The Correctional Service of Canada says the case is at the Mountain Institution in Agassiz, and involves an inmate who was in a group that recently transferred through the Matsqui Institution.

Henry joined her federal counterparts in officially recommending the use of non-medical masks when physical distancing cannot be maintained.

“[A mask] can play an important role in some of those situations, particularly in closed or crowded setting where you might be indoors,” she said, listing examples such as public transit, smaller retail stores, and personal services.

She reiterated that such masks will not protect the wearer, and that masks should remain secondary to key practices such as physical distancing, hand washing, and cleaning high-touch surfaces.

Health Minister Adrian Dix told reporters that the province has scheduled about 2,500 surgeries this week, as the province begins to ramp up parts of the health-care system that were previously put on pause.

At the height of the pandemic’s first wave, B.C. cancelled an estimated 30,000 scheduled surgeries to free up hospital beds in case they were needed for a surge in COVID-19 patients.

Dix said the province remains committed to clearing that backlog, but added that its ability to do so hinges on how well the public manages to prevent another surge in new cases.

“It depends on our ongoing commitment to use the skills we’ve learned from Dr. Henry and public health officials to stop the spread,” said Dix.

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“As Dr. Henry has made clear, a second wave of COVID-19 is very likely, given the history of pandemics.”

Earlier Thursday, B.C.’s labour minister said WorkSafeBC will conduct random workplace inspections to ensure businesses are adhering to COVID-19 safety measures as the province reopens.

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