Taking temperature: March 26 COVID-19 update

There are 66 new cases of COVID-19 in BC today, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the province to 725. Of those cases, there are now 359 in the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority region.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry today issued a new order allowing health care providers who may normally work at multiple facilities to only work at a single facility for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis. The order is aimed in part at preventing inadvertent transmission of the virus from health workers to vulnerable individuals.

According to Henry, this step is particularly important for protecting the residents of long-term care centres, which have been the source of several cluster outbreaks in the province.

She also announced that the province has developed a set of provider guidelines concerning people who use drugs (PWUD) and the COVID-19 crisis that will be released soon.

City of Vancouver officials provided an update today on measures to support vulnerable residents of the city. Those measures include plans to ensure safe supply is available for PWUD and additional shelter space for people experiencing homelessness.

Also today, Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth announced several new measures the province is taking as part of its state of emergency. These include empowering municipal bylaw officers to enforce provincial health officer orders and banning selling things like food and cleaning products on secondary markets.

The province is also ordering an end to all municipal states of emergency except for Vancouver’s to ensure coordination in policy. But any new orders issued under Vancouver’s state of emergency will need to be approved by provincial authorities.

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Tomorrow’s provincial public health briefing will touch on the modelling the province has been working on to chart the spread of the virus in BC and compare it to data from hard-hit parts of the world, like China’s Hubei province and Italy.

“What you’re going to see tomorrow is our preparations in the face of what could be worst-case scenarios in BC,” said Minister of Health Adrian Dix.

In what is becoming a familiar refrain, Henry again stressed the importance of continuing to fully adhere to public health orders and guidelines around physical distancing.

“Every day that we stay home, that we do what we have been asked to do, where we stay apart but stay connected, brings us a day closer to being able to manage this response,” 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/