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B.C. Declares Public Health Emergency As COVID-19 Cases Climb

A public health emergency has been declared as the number of COVID-19 infections within the province continues to rise, with 186 total cases and seven total deaths being reported in B.C. as of Tuesday.

Of the total cases around the province, seven are in the Interior Health region, with 83 new cases reported across British Columbia on Tuesday.

The province also reported three new deaths from the virus. Two of the deaths are associated with the ongoing Lynn Valey Care Centre outbreak and another man in his 80’s who passed away in a hospital in the Fraser Health region.

Speaking in her daily address on Tuesday afternoon, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry declared a public health emergency for B.C. residents.

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“I felt that today this is the tool we need now. We’ve taken a number of unprecedented measures in the last few days, and this declaration of an emergency enables me to be faster, more streamlined and nimble in the things that we need to do,” said Dr. Henry.

As a result of the declaration, Henry has called for the closure of bars and clubs around the province to further aid social distancing. Dr. Henry added that the recommended distance between people should be one to two metres.

“There are many places in our community that aren’t able to meet the requirements of those criteria under the order gatherings and others,” explained Henry. “For example, bars and clubs, in my opinion, are not able to meet our test for social distancing, and therefore, must close. Restaurants and cafes in some cases can meet these criteria for physical distancing, but those that cannot will need to close or move to take-out and delivery services.”

Henry is recommending members of the public to stay home if they’re feeling sick, as the focus for testing has shifted.

“Our testing is focused on clusters and outbreaks in the community that may not be related that may not be related to travel so we’re able to effectively and quickly manage those as well as health care workers, long-term care facility residents and people who are hospitalized,” said Henry.

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