Taking temperature: April 29 COVID-19 update

There are 34 new cases of COVID-19 and 4 new deaths from the virus in BC today, bringing the total number of cases in the province to 2,087. Of those cases, 811 are in the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority region.

There are currently 89 people in the province with the virus who are hospitalized, of whom 35 are in critical care.

Today Premier John Horgan extended BC’s state of emergency for another two weeks and announced that next week the province will be releasing its plan to reopen businesses that have had to close as a result of the pandemic.

In today’s briefing, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry discussed the province’s current testing strategy and provided an update on the ongoing community outbreaks.

Henry emphasized that testing is now available to anyone experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, even if those symptoms are relatively mild. People seeking a test should call the province’s 811 line for instructions on how to access one.

While testing is more broadly available than it was in the first few weeks of the pandemic, Henry stressed that not everyone needs to be tested, as testing people without symptoms can lead to both false positives and negatives, and does not provide an accurate picture of what is happening in the community. Tests are much more informative when they are used to trace cases related to community outbreaks, she continued.

“It’s very important for us to understand, however, that random testing in the community of anybody with no symptoms is of very little value to us with the current tests we have,” Henry said.

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There are several new cases of the virus associated with the two poultry plant outbreaks in BC, and there are two new long-term care facility outbreaks. In total there are now 24 outbreaks in long-term care centres in the province.

Following continued testing, there are now 50 positive cases at the Superior Poultry plant and 42 at the United Poultry plant. Investigations remain ongoing at both sites.

There are no new cases of the virus at the federal correctional facility in Mission.

Henry applauded the efforts of everyone in the province to date in following public health measures, but reiterated that people must continue to work together as the province enters the next phase of its pandemic.

“We need to continue this,” she said. “We need to continue to work together to continue to make a difference and to continue to support each other through this next phase.”