Taking temperature: BC declares state of emergency

There were 45 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in BC today, bringing the provincial total to 231 — with 144 cases in the region under the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority. There have been no new deaths since yesterday.

In today’s press conference, both Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Minister of Health Adrian Dix urged people to continue practicing social distancing and take the measures public health authorities are recommending seriously.

Henry also recommended that essential services like groceries stores and transit operators take additional steps to protect their employees and the public. For transit operators like TransLink, Henry’s recommendations included limiting the number of riders on buses and SkyTrains.

Dix announced that the BC Centre for Disease Control’s self-assessment tool has seen nearly a million views since its soft launch Monday night. He also stressed that the need for blood donors throughout the province remains high and encouraged people to donate if they could.

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Following Henry’s announcement yesterday of a provincial public health emergency, Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth declared a state of emergency today in the province. Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart said today that the time has come to declare a state of emergency for the city, pending a city council vote tomorrow.

That additional step will allow municipal and provincial authorities to enact measures to limit panic buying and order the closure of public-serving businesses, among other additional powers. Farnworth stressed that the new provincial powers will help bolster Henry’s expanded powers under the Public Health Act.

The federal government today announced that the sweeping restrictions on international travel introduced on Monday would be extended to include the land border between the US and Canada. All non-essential travel across that border is now restricted, although trade and commerce traffic is exempted.

In addition, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced an $82-billion aid package to help mitigate the economic consequences of the social distancing and self-isolation measures authorities are calling for.

Dix concluded his remarks by addressing people who have not yet adopted the social distancing and self-isolation measures that the government is urging people to follow.

“I want to say that you neighbours and your friends and your families are counting on you to do just that,” he said. “It’s not too late to join the fight. … We need you to join in and we need you to do it now, today, this moment.”

Stay up to date on UBC information related to COVID-19 by visiting ubyssey.ca/covid-19, the websites of the BCCDC, the Public Health Agency of Canada or the World Health Organization. The province has set up a dedicated COVID-19 phone line at 1-888-COVID19 or text at 1-888-268-4319. For updates on UBC’s response to COVID-19, visit ubc.ca/campus-notifications/