Province reports 66 new COVID-19 cases, including 16 in Interior Health

Laverne Higgins
March 27, 2020

British Columbia's provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced 42 new positive tests for COVID-19 in the province Wednesday, bringing the provincial total to 659 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus.

People who ignore public health orders, including a ban on large gatherings, can now be fined upwards of $25,000. There have been 14 deaths in the province to date. At least 55 health care staff at the homes have tested positive for the disease.

Another care home outbreak - at Haro Park Centre in Vancouver - now includes a total of 55 confirmed cases.

People who qualify for help through the federal Employment Insurance program by showing they've been financially affected by COVID-19 will be eligible for the temporary rent supplement, which will be paid directly to their landlords. Two of them are residents of the facility, while the third is a staff member.

The province will also be working with the federal government to align its enforcement of the mandatory quarantine, if needed, said Henry, although it was already an order for British Columbians to self-isolate after returning from travel.

Housing Minister Selina Robinson said those measures would help renters and landowners maintain physical distancing.

Henry said every day that we stay home and do what we are asked (staying apart from others), that brings us closer to managing the virus. "We are putting in place measures now to try and control that and be more efficient and effective in how we use PPE".

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"We can all make a difference, but we need everyone to be 100 per cent committed", she notes.

City bylaw officers across the province now have the power to help enforce those orders, through education and potentially gathering evidence of a violation. That includes for celebrations and ceremonies, which Henry said are important to acknowledge, but should be acknowledged online rather than in person.

186 people have fully recovered from COVID-19 in B.C. Henry notes that this means that most people, particularly who are young and have mild illness, are recovering from this virus at home.

BC seniors needing support during the COVID-19 pandemic can now call 211, an expanded provincial hotline announced today by BC Minister of Health Adrian Dix and seniors' advocate Isobel Mackenzie.

Sixty-six people are in hospital, 26 of whom are in ICU, said Henry.

Dix said that there were now 3,066 acute care beds available, making the current occupancy rate of those beds just 66 per cent. Normally they would be above regular capacity at 103.5 per cent. The province plans to provide an update on its "modelling" of the virus at 10:30 a.m. on Friday.

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