People watch the Stanley Cup playoffs at a bar in Montreal, Tuesday, May 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

B.C.’s top doctor orders bars, some restaurants to close over COVID-19

B.C. declares the novel coronavirus spread a public health emergency

B.C.’s top doctor has ordered all bars and pubs to close in B.C. until further notice to avoid the spread of COVID-19. Restaurants that cannot practice social-distancing among their guests and manage crowd sizes must also change their operations.

B.C.’s total number of COVID-19 cases jumped to 186 as of Tuesday, as 83 cases were added to the public health database and three more people died after contracting the novel coronavirus. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry declared a public health emergency as a result of the rising number of cases and ordered pubs and nightclubs to close and restaurants to move to take-out service only to reduce exposure.

Two of the three deaths were at a North Vancouver seniors care facility where four other people have died since an outbreak began in B.C., and an 80-year-old man died in hospital in the Fraser Health region on Monday.

Of the 186 total cases identified by testing, 116 are in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 47 in Fraser Health, 12 in Vancouver Island Health, seven in Interior Health and four in Northern Health. Henry said three of the northern cases were tested while they were in Vancouver Coastal Health and have since gone to isolation at home.

“We’ve been actively trying to protect the north in many ways,” Henry said, because of the smaller, more remote communities there.

The number of cases has risen sharply as B.C. has opened assessment centres in each health region, and stepped up testing of people who are identified as having the key symptoms of fever, cough and sore throat.

Henry said the numbers have risen partly because of a catch-up in processing test results, particularly in Vancouver Coastal region where an urgent care centre has been doing tests to check on outbreaks such as the Lynn Valley Care Centre where most deaths have occurred.

The tests have ramped up to “thousands a day” and they were being confirmed by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control until additional medical labs were set up to work independently, Henry said. The backlog is “probably in the hundreds” as of Tuesday.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

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