Amid challenge, Henry relishes chorus of clangs; more cases confirmed

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says in the face of a global pandemic there are many examples of generosity and caring — including the nightly outdoor cheer for front-line workers doing essential jobs.

“There’s a lot of examples I’ve been seeing over the last couple of weeks and days, and the things that make me smile and make me realize we are going to get through this together,” said Henry.

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Henry said with her neighbours she takes part in a nightly growing applause to health-care workers at 7 p.m. — banging pots and pans to thank essential workers.

And there are other examples.

“Things like people leaving flowers and groceries on the doorstep for their neighbours,” said Henry. “We’ve been seeing young children having virtual kindergartens and virtual playdates.”

That positive message was part of the daily update on COVID-19 cases, delivered Wednesday at the B.C. legislature’s press theatre.

Henry announced 53 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in B.C., bringing the total to 1,066.

“This is a very challenging time for us — it’s hard to know how things will turn out right now, but we seem to be holding our own,” said Henry, adding: “We will get through this no matter what happens, but we do have a few more weeks to go. Our goal is to have these restrictions that we put in place and the orders that we put in place for as short a time as possible.”

There are now 72 COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island — up from 67 on Tuesday — 497 in the Vancouver Coast Health Authority, 367 in Fraser Health, 114 in Interior Health and 16 in Northern Health.

Henry said while we will move through the pandemic, we need to remain vigilant in our social distancing practices in a way “that is not going to tip us over an edge or increase the number of people who are becoming infected.”

Another death was announced, bringing the total to 25 people who have died of COVID-19 in B.C. No COVID-19 deaths have been reported on Vancouver Island.

As of Wednesday, there were 142 people in hospital, including 67 in intensive-care units or high acuity care units.

There are now 21 outbreaks at care homes or assisted-living homes in B.C. None of those facilities are on Vancouver Island.

The provincial health officer and B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said they are aggressively monitoring and testing residents in seniors homes for COVID-19 and counting even a single resident or employee who tests positive for the virus at a long-term care or assisted-living facility as an outbreak.

On a more sombre tone, Henry said in addition to an overall ethics framework for COVID-19 now posted on the province’s website (gov.bc.ca), a framework for allocation of scarce resources, such as ventilators, is in the final phases of completion.

“Part of that is a structure for how those decisions will be made so that no individual clinician or health-care worker will have to make those entirely terrible decisions on their own,” said Henry. “That will be done within the framework that respects the value of every individual life.”

That framework will be posted on the government’s website when it is released.

On Monday, the province had acquired and refurbished an additional 83 ventilators beyond the 1,272 in system.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

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