B.C. residents urged to stay home this long weekend, as COVID-19 cases hit 1,336

There are 45 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in B.C. and five additional deaths

As a long weekend approaches, health officials are ramping up pressure on people to stay home, acknowledging the temptation to join the many religious celebrations starting this week — from Ramadan to Passover to Vaisakhi to Easter — and to visit family and friends in other parts of the province or country.

“This will be a long weekend like we have never experienced,” B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said. “Its religious and family significance is as strong as ever, but we must find other ways to make it memorable, restorative and affirming.

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“Find the virtue in virtual and telephone connections, find togetherness without gathering, find comfort in your own home with family.”

Dix urged people not to travel, either across the Island or to other provinces.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said ignoring orders on physical-distancing and self-isolation could affect the gains B.C. has made in the face of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.

“We need to make sure we consider the impact that such a misstep could have on everything that we have done and everything that we have put together in the last couple of weeks, and to make sure that we continue to keep our firewall strong.”

Henry announced on Wednesday 45 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in B.C. — including two on Vancouver Island — bringing the total to 1,336. Of those, 838 people are considered to be fully recovered. She announced five new deaths, bringing the total to 48 in B.C.

“We are in the thick of it right now,” said Henry. “We are still watching what’s happening across the country and across the globe, and it’s no time for us to let up at all. Every day we are doing this is making a difference.”

Dix noted 58 physicians and 947 nurses have rejoined their professions to help deal with the pandemic.

Currently, there are 135 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 11 in the Island Health region. Sixty-one people are in intensive-care or critical-care units.

There have been 81 cases on Vancouver Island, 615 in Vancouver Coastal Health, 487 in Fraser Health, 130 in Interior Health and 23 in Northern Health.

Not everyone who might have COVID-19 is tested, however. Guidelines from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control limit testing to people who are hospitalized or likely to be hospitalized, health-care workers, residents in long-term care and people who are part of an investigation for a cluster outbreak.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

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