Taking temperature: March 19 COVID-19 update

There are 40 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 1 new death in BC today, bringing the total number of cases in the province to 271. From those cases, 152 are in the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority region.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry elaborated that many of these new cases are related to the three care centre outbreaks the province is monitoring and that the most recent death was connected to the outbreak at the Lynn Valley Care Centre.

At today’s press conference, both Henry and Minister of Health Adrian Dix stressed that it is critical that everyone in BC follows public health guidelines around social distancing measures — especially young people who are used to more social interaction in groups.

“It’s challenging, I think, for young people because we are used to that kind of environment and we don’t feel the risk, necessarily,” said Henry. “I just think right now, particularly for young people in our community, this is the time where you need to actually stay away from others.”

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Earlier today, the Vancouver City Council unanimously passed a declaration of a state of emergency, giving the city the power to take measures like order the closure of businesses disobeying social distancing orders or take over parts of buildings in the municipality.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also clarified today that the restrictions on travel across the land border with the US announced yesterday will take effect overnight at some point between Friday and Saturday.

Henry today also emphasized the importance of staying connected while distancing, highlighting things like virtual coffee dates that people can do to maintain social contact while minimizing face-to-face interactions. Measures to maintain connection are especially important to support vulnerable community members like the elderly, she continued.

Dix echoed this sentiment, elaborating that because things like depression, diabetes and cancer do not disappear during a pandemic, people struggling with those conditions may need extra support from those in their network.

Henry acknowledged that there is fear and uncertainty about the future in communities across the province, but encouraged people to focus on the ways they can support their communities and the resources that are available to assist them.

“We know there’s a lot of anxiety,” she said. “But the sun comes up and we realize that there are things that we can do to support each other.”

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/