Taking temperature: March 21 COVID-19 update

There are 74 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in BC today and one new death connected to the Lynn Valley Care Centre. Across the province, there are now 424 confirmed cases.

In a press conference today, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provided updates on the demographics of the current provincial cases and clarified the province’s testing strategy.

Henry also announced that she is ordering the province-wide closure of personal service establishments, like salons and tattoo parlours, in a further effort to limit the close physical contacts people are having.

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In response to questions about the province’s testing strategy, she clarified that at this stage, the province is focusing its testing efforts on individuals with more severe symptoms to protect the health care system and limit the exposure front-line health workers have to the virus. If and when the epidemiological curve in BC has been flattened, Henry continued, the province would then expand the scale and scope of its testing to ensure no new community transmission is occurring.

According to Henry, as has been the case in other jurisdictions around the world, individuals in BC with the virus have tended to be older. But she did highlight a cluster of cases of people in their 30s and 40s who represent mainly health care workers who have contracted the virus.

Despite that fact, both Henry and Minister of Health Adrian Dix stressed that young people are not immune to the virus and they risk transmitting it to more vulnerable members of the population, if they do not take social distancing measures seriously.

“There are still some problems and there [are] still some concerns, and we are being made aware of those, particularly groups of young people,” Henry said.

“This is what we’re talking about in terms of making sure that we’re not gathering on the beach to watch the sunset. … It is important to get outside, but do it with your family, do it with the people that you live with and maintain distance from others.”

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/