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COVID-19: Numbers and new initiatives (March 19)

The COVID-19 situation in British Columbia is continually evolving. The information below is current as of 3 p.m. on March 19, 2020. These updates will be issued daily for the remainder of the week.

Cases:

* Total confirmed cases in B.C.: 271

* New cases since March 18, 2020: 40

* Hospitalized cases: 17

* Intensive care: 9

* Deaths: 8

* Recovered: 5

Confirmed cases by region:

* Vancouver Coastal Health: 152

* Fraser Health: 81

* Island Health: 22

* Interior Health: 12

* Northern Health: 4

Testing

* At least 17,000 British Columbians have been tested.

* At least 50,000 Canadians have been tested.

* Testing is available for all who need it, but not everyone requires a test.
* If you have no symptoms, mild symptoms or you are a returning traveller self-isolating at home, you do not require a test.

* For each of these situations, the public health advice remains the same, regardless of test results: self-isolate for 14 days to monitor for the development of symptoms or until your symptoms are completely gone.

* Those who have severe illness, require hospitalization, are residents of long-term care facilities or are health-care workers will continue to be tested.
* Anyone part of an active investigation or outbreak cluster will be tested so they can be appropriately monitored.

* If symptoms appear, call your health-care provider or 811 for guidance.

Provincial advice and measures

* NEW: Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, clarifies direction on social distancing relating to going outside:
* It is safe to go outside to get fresh air, walk pets, ride a bike and exercise while maintaining safe social distances.

* NEW: The B.C. government is waiving the Medical Services Plan (MSP) coverage wait period for people moving back to B.C. from COVID-19 impacted areas. In addition, the B.C. government is planning to provide health coverage to British Columbians who are out of province and unable to return: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/health-drug-coverage/msp/bc-residents

* NEW: Rear door, fare-free boarding on all BC Transit, TransLink buses: https://www.bctransit.com/victoria/news?nid=1529708533639
https://buzzer.translink.ca/

* NEW: Resource for managing COIVD-19 related stress, anxiety and depression: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/health-safety/covid19_stressmanagement_5_accessible.pdf

* NEW: WorkSafeBC resources available for employers and workers: https://www.worksafebc.com/en/about-us/covid-19-updates

* NEW: BC Housing temporary eviction moratorium and rent-adjustment notification: https://www.bchousing.org/publications/Covid-19-Bulletin-for-Housing-Providers-Eviction-and-Rent-Adjustment-Notification-March-18th-2020.pdf

* A provincial state of emergency has been declared: https://news.gov.bc.ca/21826

* A new website has been launched for non-health related information and services:
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-preparedness-response-recovery/covid-19-provincial-support

* BC Ferries is reducing food and retail services to minimal levels on board ships and at our terminals effective March 18, 2020:
https://www.bcferries.com/about/media_room/newsreleases.html

* Henry has reminded employers that they must excuse workers for sickness without requiring a doctor’s note.

* Henry has issued an order providing criteria for exempting essential service workers from self-isolation protocols:
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/about-bc-s-health-care-system/office-of-the-provincial-health-officer/current-health-topics

* There are no plans to close BC Liquor Stores. On the advice of the provincial health officer, cash transactions are acceptable during this pandemic.

* Henry has issued a class order addressing mass gatherings:
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/about-bc-s-health-care-system/office-of-the-provincial-health-officer/current-health-topics

* A public health emergency has been declared.

* The B.C. government is suspending K-12 learning in all classrooms. A decision on when and how to return will be made in partnership with school districts and independent schools.

* Businesses with liquor primary licenses (bars, pubs, night clubs, etc.) are ordered to close.

* Restaurants and cafes that cannot maintain social distancing of one to two metres between patrons must move to take-out and delivery models.

* An online self-assessment tool to help to determine further assessment needs or testing related to COVID available online: www.bccdc.ca

* Henry has issued the following order for travellers:
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/about-bc-s-health-care-system/office-of-the-provincial-health-officer/current-health-topics

* The B.C. government will make changes to the Employment Standards Act to protect workers and prevent layoffs.

* BC Ferries will allow customers to remain in their vehicles on the enclosed car deck.

* On March 16, Henry announced new measures related to mass gatherings:
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/health/about-bc-s-health-care-system/office-of-the-provincial-health-officer/reports-publications/covid-19-pho-class-order-mass-gatherings.pdf

* Measures related to hospital operations, long-term care facilities, casinos and gatherings over 50 people have been announced:
https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2020HLTH0086-000499

* There is no need to stockpile. Be measured and show moderation when purchasing food and household goods. There is no shortage of goods in Canada.

Public health emergency

* Under a provincial health emergency, a provincial health officer among other emergency powers, may:
* do orally what must otherwise be done in writing;

* serve an order in any manner;

* act in a shorter or longer time period than is otherwise required; and

* compel any peace officer to enforce an order.

Travel

* Provincial health officer’s order for travellers:
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/about-bc-s-health-care-system/office-of-the-provincial-health-officer/current-health-topics

* On March 17, 2020, the federal government announced new measures relating to travel, including:
* closure of the Canada-U.S. border to all non-essential traffic, likely coming into effect by the weekend.

* On March 16, 2020, the federal government announced new measures relating to travel, including:
* banning entry of all foreign nationals by air travel from all countries;

* consolidating international inbound flights to four major hubs only, including Vancouver International Airport (YVR);

* preventing symptomatic passengers from boarding a plane to Canada;

* strengthening in-flight medical procedures and medical screening immediately upon landing, with enhanced cleaning and disinfection at airports;

* support for impacted Canadians abroad; and

* 14-day self-isolation for all arrivals except for essential work.

* Global Affairs Canada has set up an emergency loan program for people abroad attempting to return to Canada.

* Public health officials require anyone arriving in B.C. from a foreign country to self-isolate for 14 days, staying away from work or school. Guidance for self-isolation is available on the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) website:
http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19/testing-isolation

* Cruise ship season is delayed until July 1, 2020 (vessels with more than 500 people).

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