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COVID-19: New cases in Interior Health; provincial total now 186

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(via Unsplash)

Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.'s top medical health officer, declared a public health emergency in the province Tuesday afternoon.

Henry also announced there are three new deaths and 83 new cases of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Two of the new deaths are residents in the Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver.

The third was a person in their 80s, who died in hospital.

Henry then revealed that all bars in the province must close, as they can't guarantee the kind of safe social distancing needed to prevent spread of the disease.

She said declaring a public health emergency allows the government to act faster and allow the government to employ the police to enforce the order if necessary.

"This is a time for calm," Henry added.

She said some restaurants and cafés may be able to operate, if they can maintain social distances between customers and staff.

Five provinces across Canada have now declared a health emergency.

Henry said 116 of the reported cases of COVID-19 are in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 47 in Fraser Health, 12 on Vancouver Island, seven in the Interior and four in Northern Health.

She further urged people to exercise proper hand, coughing habits, avoid touching your face and staying away from others.

Seven of the current cases, Henry said, are in hospital, four of whom are in intensive care.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated there were seven new cases in Interior Health. There are seven cases in total. We apologize for the error.