British Columbia’s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced on Thursday 20 new cases of COVID-19 and two additional deaths from the disease.
A teacher from the Fraser Health region is among the 20 new cases (19 tested positive, plus one assumed).
“As you know we anticipated and planned for this potential when we returned to classes in B.C. …We’ve moved quickly when cases are identified and this is the second case identified in a school,” said Henry.
She said the teacher was not exposed to students.
“We know this teacher was exposed through a social interaction…and linked to known cases.
“This is a contact of a contact of a known case,” said Henry.
On June 1, according to government, “all kindergarten-to-Grade 5 students had the option to attend school half-time, while students in Grades 6 to 12 had the option to attend school for the equivalent of one day a week. During this time, the student population was limited to no more than 50% in kindergarten to Grade 5, and no more than 20% in Grades 6 to 12.”
The goal is to have “even more students in class in September, as long as it is safe to do so based on the advice” of Henry, according to the Ministry of Education.
“Much depends on what happens between now and then. We need to plan for contingencies,” said Henry.
Henry took a moment to address the fact today is the last in-class day of the school year for K-12 students, congratulating them for the finished year.
The two deaths announced Thursday occurred in nursing homes.
“I want to pass on our condolences to the families in what is unquestionably a difficult time,” said Minister of Health Adrian Dix.
There are now 179 active, tested cases of COVID-19 cases. Of those, 15 people are hospitalized and seven are in the intensive-care unit.
Dix said the health system is continuing to chip away at 30,000 postponed or unscheduled surgeries. He said over the last three weeks the system has performed over 6,000 such surgeries weekly, which is higher than the pre-COVID-19 rate of 6,000 weekly.
Stay distant and wash hands
The 20 new cases were announced the day after British Columbia moved to Phase 3 of its restart plan and reopening non-essential travel, the film industry and entertainment venues.
Dix said it was important for everyone to stay vigilant by distancing, wearing masks when distancing isn’t possible and washing hands frequently.
He alluded to the need to keep international borders closed, especially the U.S. border, where in Washington Sae and elsewhere cases are rising.
“We of course are hoping for the best for all our American friends. As we approach and open up and do things together we must be vigilant because it’s in our interests to do so,” said Dix.
Dix and Henry fielded media questions concerning speculation the National Hockey League may have directed its efforts to locate its games elsewhere because of public health rules in B.C., according to TSN.
Henry said it was speculation that the NHL may have ruled out Vancouver.
“I have been very supportive of the NHL plan and the plan the [Vancouver] Canucks put together,” said Henry, noting she was not part of direct negotiations.
Dix said the Canucks plan was reviewed by Henry and submitted and “obviously it’s up to the NHL to make their own decision.”
Asked if B.C. has stricter measures than other provinces, Henry said it did not.
She said if a player were to contract COVID-19 they would need to self-isolate.
“The only thing I am unflinching on is the primary concern of the health of British Columbians,” said Henry.