Pandemic update: No new deaths, 66 new cases

New cases up since Wednesday, no new deaths

Public health officer Bonnie Henry says it will be five to six days before she will know if COVID-19 infections have begun to peak in B.C.. | BC Government

There were no deaths from COVID-19 to report Thursday, but 66 new cases, which is up from yesterday's 42.

The total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in B.C. now stands at 725.

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a daily briefing Thursday that 15 new ventilators have arrived, but there remains a serious shortage of personal protective equipment, particularly in long-term care homes -- the hardest hit -- where workers in some care homes still don't have face masks or face shields.

Of the 14 deaths from the COVID-19 virus in B.C., 11 of them have been at Lynn Valley Care Centre.

Even so, the priority will be for health care workers, not long-term care workers.

"Obviously there's a huge international demand for PPE, and a lot of disruption in what you'd call global manufacturing of all the supply chains that all of us use," Dix said. "But our primary focus is to protect health care workers."

There are now 66 people infected with COVID-19 in hospital, and 26 in intensive care. A total of 186 people have recovered.

The fact that there hasn't been a great increase in patients having to be hospitalized is cause for some cautious optimism. However, public health officer Bonnie Henry said it will be five or six more days before health officials know whether infection rates have started to peak, as a result of social isolation measures.

"We're still very much in the first incubation period from when we started putting in these restrictive measures," she said. "So there are people out there who are incubating this disease. So we are not going to see a dramatic change for another five to six days.

"There are many things that can happen. We could have an outbreak in a small community, we could have a hospital outbreak."

Tomorrow the government will release modelling of what could be expected in B.C, including worst-case scenarios, which would swamp hospitals.

Seniors are most at risk from COVID-19. For those seniors who are not in care homes, but self-isolating at home, the B.C. government is providing $50 million in funding to help them stay in their homes.

It will provide services like an expansion of the bc211 program, which will provide help to seniors for things like grocery shopping and pharmacy needs.

The cases regionally break down as follow:

Vancouver Coastal Health, 359

Fraser Health, 241

Vancouver Island, 52,

Interior, 62

Northern B.C., 11

nbennett@biv.com

@nbennett_biv