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New COVID-19 case reported in Northern Health Authority, brings total to five

Northern Health now has a total of five cases
(via Kyle Balzer)

COVID-19 cases continue to rise, including in Northern Health. 

Health Minister Adrian Dix and Dr. Bonnie Henry announced today (March 23) the authority has one new case, which brings the total to five cases. 

Dr. Bonnie Henry says there are  48 new cases in B.C., which is now a total of 472 cases. 

There are now 39 cases on Vancouver Island, 248 in the Vancouver Coast Health Authority, 150 in Fraser Health and 30 in Interior Health, plus the five in Northern Health.

There have been three additional deaths over the past two days, bringing the total to 13.

"We are very saddened, of course, by the passing of these people," Henry said in announcing the latest deaths.

She said of the three deaths, two were connected to long-term care facilities in Metro Vancouver at the Lynn Valley Care Centre and Haro Park, with the third person being a resident in the Fraser Health region.

There are 33 people are in hospital, and 14 of those are in intensive care units.

Henry said 100 people have recovered.  

Health Minister Adrian Dix said B.C.'s recent move to cancel elective and scheduled surgeries has increased the number of beds available at B.C. hospitals in anticipation of "things about to come."

He said hospital bed capacity in B.C. regularly measures just above 100 per cent, but in the past week the capacity dropped to 68.6 per cent, with 3,632 available beds.

"We are preparing for the circumstances that are before us," Dix said. "We are preparing for the weeks that are to come."

Henry said she senses people in B.C. have grasped the necessity of following her recent orders to stay home if sick, self-isolate for 14 days if recently travelled and to practise physical distancing from others when outside.

She said she never imagined in her 30 years in public health that she would close schools and order people to keep their distance from each other.

"We're seeing people come to that recognition and there's been a transition over this past week," she said. "Just reflect on the monumental changes that we have asked society to do."

Northern Health will also be implementing Dr. Henry's recommendations regarding long term care homes for seniors, as seniors are at a higher risk for serious illness.

These measures include:

  • Temporarily suspending interfacility transfers, except in circumstances of intolerable risk, until further notice and ensure clients’ place on the wait list for transfer is maintained during the suspension of transfers;
  • Prioritizing admissions to Long Term Care from acute care over those from community where possible;
  • Temporarily suspending all health authority operated/funded Home and Community Care (HCC) adult day programs and;
  • Temporarily suspending the provision of in-facility respite, except in circumstances of intolerable risk.

Northern Health also wants to reduce visits to long-term care homes and only essential visits are recommended.

This includes visits for compassionate care (end of life and critical illness) and visits considered essential to resident care and well-being.

- with files from Times Colonist and The Canadian Press