Taking temperature: March 25 COVID-19 update

There are 42 new cases of COVID-19 and one new death from the virus in BC today, bringing the total number of cases in the province to 659. Of those cases, 339 are in the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority region.

At today’s press conference, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry discussed the unexpectedly fast consumption of personal protective equipment (PPE) by health care workers and again emphasized the importance of physical distancing measures.

Also today, several major policies were announced at both the provincial and federal levels related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

These included the passage of a $107-billion federal aid package resulting from the merger of previously existing plans and the release of more information on BC’s rent relief measures. Those provincial measures include a ban on evictions and up to $500 monthly for four months in rent assistance.

In addition, the federal government announced it is now mandatory for travellers returning to Canada to self-isolate for 14 days.

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As hospitalizations related to COVID-19 are increasing in BC, what Henry called the “burn rate” for PPE has been higher than public health authorities had previously assumed it would be.

This is leading the province to order more supplies, look into alternative supply sources and introduce new procedures to manage their existing supply of PPE more efficiently. Such procedures may include reusing PPE that is able to be cleaned and worn multiple times.

“We are on a tenuous level right now, but we do have a plan for that,” Henry said.

Henry also highlighted the fact that while her public health officer’s order bans gatherings larger than 50 people, smaller gatherings should not be happening either, as even groups of two or three could provide a chain of transmission for the virus.

“We’re talking about gatherings, about having people over to your home, about gathering together in the park. These are things that right now we can’t be doing,” she said.

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/