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9 new COVID-19 cases in B.C. brings total to 73

Health officials said they've begun to reserve tests to break transmission chains and urged anyone with mild symptoms to ride it out at home
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives an update on COVID-19 in B.C.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives an update on COVID-19 in B.C.

There are nine new positive cases of COVID-19 in B.C., said health officials Saturday, bringing the provincial total to 73.

Seven of the new cases are from the Vancouver Coastal Health region, one from Fraser Health region and another from Interior Health.

Two previous cases isolated in the Vancouver Coastal Health region have returned home to Northern Health under strict protocols. The movement of those patients means the virus now has a footprint in every health region across the province.

And as the number of cases continue to tick up across B.C., health officials have begun to triage the province’s testing capabilities.

“We’re recognizing people are coming back with COVID-19 from everywhere. We need to focus on clusters and transmission chains,” said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, highlighting the need to focus testing on health care workers, people sick in hospital or in long-term care homes.

“For everybody else, even if you have mild or no symptoms and you’ve returned from travel, you don’t need testing.”

“We’re coping..but it’s near the edge,” she added.

The shift marks a significant change in how the province tracks the virus, away from broad testing and towards targeted efforts to “break transmission chains” and “flatten the curve.”

Anyone sick with the virus without serious symptoms should stay home to free up resources for people who need it, said Dr. Henry.

“We can’t stop people coming back from getting ill. We need them to not pass it on to anyone else,” she said.

The province is also in the process of setting up a network of mobile COVID-19 testing centres, expanding the mobile testing already carried out in some long-term care homes and in certain communities.

Neither Dr. Henry or Health Minister Adrian Dix gave any details on the number of mobile testing centres, but they said they would be announced soon.

Most importantly, Dix and Dr. Henry recommended people stay away from long-term care homes and forgo visits to seniors or people with underlying conditions that make them vulnerable to COVID-19.

As people hunker down and maintain social distancing measures in preparation for a surge of cases, better to go outside with your family in small groups and enjoy the sun, said Dr. Henry. 

As for the run on groceries, medical masks and household essentials like toilet paper, Dix urged British Columbians to be measured in their purchases.

“Our supply chains are strong. Retailers are stocking shelves,” said Dix.

“There’s no need to hoard.”

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