COVID-19 update: two more deaths, 67 new cases

Two deaths and two additional care homes with confirmed COVID-19 cases since Thursday

Bonnie Henry closeup
'I do believe we’ve seen a flattening – a falling off of that curve' -- public health officer Bonnie Henry. | BC Government

What happened: There are 67 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 virus infections since Thursday, two more deaths, and two new cases at long-term care homes.

Why it matters: Modelling released today of B.C. cases compared to the trajectory of virus spread in other countries gives public health officials hope that the critical "flattening" of the growth curve could be reached soon, and Friday's figures suggest a leveling off over few days.

There are now 792 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in B.C., up from 725 yesterday. The total death total from COVID-19 now stands at 16.

"We are saddened to report two more deaths as a result of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Coastal health region," said public health officer Bonnie Henry in her daily update.

Virus infections have been confirmed at two more long-term care homes -- the Harrison at Elim Village and Chartwell Independent Living at Langley Gardens -- bringing the total number of care homes with COVID-19 cases to 11.

Of the patients with COVID-19 infections, 73 are in hospital. A total of 275 patients have recovered.

While it’s still too early to declare that the measures that the province started putting in place two weeks ago have worked to “flatten the curve,” modelling released earlier today suggests B.C. is tracking closer to South Korea – a best case scenario – than some of the worst-case scenarios, like Northern Italy.

"In the past few days, our upward path has been less severe than other places, but we continue to see steady increases in community transmission cases and continue to be concerned about outbreaks, which could quickly grow and challenge our pandemic response," Henry cautioned.

It will be another two weeks yet before health officials can declare that the exponential growth of the virus has peaked out.

That’s how long it takes before any discernible impacts are seen from whatever measures went into place earlier, like restrictions on travel, school closures, closures of restaurants, and limits on large gatherings.

Key dates are March 15 and 16, which is when the latest round of restrictions went into effect.

“So for me, when I’m looking at this curve, I know that there are people who were exposed to this virus prior to that date who are going to become sick in the 14 days after their exposure,” Henry said.

New COVID-19 cases continue to be reported daily. But pointing to modelling of B.C.’s case growth, Henry expressed a bit of optimism.

“I pray not to over call it, but I do believe we’ve seen a flattening – a falling off of that curve,” Henry said.

Initially, health officials focused their testing on people returning from abroad, but have since shifted to testing in the community and at health care facilities.

"Very specifically, we are looking at making sure we detect any cases in our hospitals, in health care workers and long-term care, because we know those are where we could get outbreaks...that can take out health care workers and our health care facilities," Henry said.

The province has been doing more than 3,000 tests per day.

Since Monday, the total number of cases of COVID-19 have gone from 472 to 792.

Here is a recap of the new cases reported each day over the last week:

March 27, 67

March 26, 66

March 25, 42

March 24, 78

March 23, 67

March 22, 48

March 21, 76

nbennett@biv.com

@nbennett_biv