Cruise ships told not to stop in BC in July

Only seven new COVID-19 cases since Monday, province tells cruise ship travellers to stay on board

Provincial health officer Bonnie Henry says travellers arriving by cruise ship in July will be be allowed to disembark. | BC Government

Provincial public health officer Bonnie Henry gave B.C. nurses a gift Tuesday on International Nurses Day: Just seven new COVID-19 cases since Monday, no new community outbreaks and falling hospitalization rates.

The seven new cases brings B.C.’s total COVID-19 cases to 2,360, of which 1,832 people have recovered.

There was one additional death since Monday, though the number of patients in hospital and critical care have fallen, with just 16 COVID-19 patients now in acute care.

In her daily pandemic update, Henry was asked about plans by the Vancouver Port Authority to begin welcoming cruise ships in July.

While ports are a federal jurisdiction, Henry and B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix made it clear that the province would not allow travellers to disembark in B.C. So, cruise ships could stop here for refuelling and resupplying, but passengers would not be allowed to disembark.

"We are, as you can imagine, not in favour of cruise ships coming into anywhere in British Columbia," Henry said.

The requirement for travellers from outside of B.C. to self-isolate for 14 days will still be in effect, so unless cruise ship travellers are willing to be quarantine for two weeks, there would be no point in stepping off the boat anywhere in B.C.

"If a cruise ship had somehow planned to come here, then we would not be allowing people to come off the cruise ship," Henry said.

With a long weekend coming up, many cottagers will be wanting to head to their vacation homes. Henry asked people to stay close to home for now. And as the summer progresses, she asked that anyone travelling to summer homes and cottages to at least make sure they take everything they need, and limit their interactions in local stores.

"Right now, this weekend, stay close to home," she said "Don't go travelling."

As businesses begin to reopen, starting after the long weekend, there is some question whether customers and clients will be, or should be, required to wear masks for things like haircuts. Henry said she didn't think that is necessary, saying "it's not the most effective measure to prevent transmission.

"I really don't believe we should be requiring it."

Henry announced a new survey being launched  to try to gauge how British Columbians have been affected by the pandemic.

It also includes a survey asking for British Columbians if they would like to volunteer to have serology tests, as they become available. Serology tests, which can determine who already has immunity to the virus, are not yet available. But when they are, the province hopes to recruit people to participate in serology study to better gauge immunity levels in B.C.

The survey is available online at the BC Centre for Disease Control.

Here are the daily case counts for May12, compared with numbers from May 11 in brackets:

New COVID-19 cases: 7 (23)

BC Total: 2,360 (2,353)

Hospitalized: 63 (66)

Intensive care: 16 (18)

Recovered: 1,832 (1,719)

Deaths: 131 (130)

Confirmed cases by region:

Vancouver Coastal Health: 874

Fraser Health: 1,124

Island Health: 125

Interior Health: 180

Northern Health: 57.