Seven more people are sick with COVID-19 in B.C., health officials announced on Wednesday.
It brings the total cases in the province to 46, up from 39 on Wednesday, when health officials announced the same number of new cases.
Two are health care workers at the Lynn Valley Care Centre — a male in his 20s who lives in the Vancouver Coastal Health region and a woman in her 50 in the Fraser Health region. Both are recovering in isolation at home.
Three new cases are travellers coming from Egypt. Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, noted Tuesday that health officials were seeing more cases coming from Egypt.
Henry also announced two new community cases in the Fraser Health region. A woman in her 60s has been hospitalized. A man in his 60s is in isolation at home.
The federal government rolled out a $1-billion package Wednesday to help the country’s health-care system and economy cope with what the The World Health Organization has now declared a pandemic.
Multiple health authorities reported a flurry of new positive tests for COVID-19, including one person at Canadian Forces Base Trenton repatriated from a cruise ship docked in California, and a man in Sudbury, Ont., who attended a large mining conference in Toronto.
With more than 100,000 people sickened around the world, including more than 100 in Canada and the expectation of more, the WHO called on countries to mitigate the social and economic impacts while minimizing the disruption to everyday life.
But this is easier said than done. On Wednesday, disruption to everyday life continued apace.
In Italy, where COVID-19 cases has exceeded 12,000 and deaths are approaching 900, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte heightened containment efforts by ordering all businesses except grocery stores and pharmacies to close nationwide.
In nearby Washington, where the Department of Health has confirmed 330 cases, Gov. Jay Inslee announced a ban on gatherings and events of more than 250 people in Seattle and its surrounding areas.
“This is an unprecedented public health situation and we can’t wait until we’re in the middle of it to slow it down,” Inslee said at a news conference Wednesday. “We’ve got to get ahead of the curve. One main defense is to reduce the interaction of people in our lives.”
Mass gatherings and spectator events all over the world have been cancelled or postponed in recent days, from the TED conference in Vancouver to major music festivals like Coachella and SXSW.
The Overwatch League, which draws esports players from around the world, has cancelled all matches through March and April.
In Canada, the World Figure Skating Championships set for next week in Montreal were cancelled, just days after the Women’s World Hockey Championships in Nova Scotia were called off.
The women’s world curling championship, set to begin Saturday in Prince George, will go ahead as planned.
Other spectator events have merely cancelled spectators.
The Columbus Blue Jackets became the first NHL to announce that home games will be played without fans, heeding the advice of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine. Other teams are expected to do the same.
NCAA President Mark Emmert said Wednesday that the March Madness tournament will be played without fans, and even American TV talk shows like “Live With Kelly and Ryan” and “The View” began filming Wednesday without studio audiences.
Trudeau said Canada’s government is considering more measures to contain COVID-19, such as what to do with incoming cruise ships, on which the disease has been known to spread.
He said Canada has been fortunate so far but warned cases could climb. He demurred on when the government would opt for stricter measures like community-wide lockdowns, such as those in China and Italy.
“It’s not about time. It’s about the situation and the facts on the ground. We will closely monitor what is needed to be done to keep Canadians safe,” Trudeau said, flanked by key ministers and Canada’s chief public health officer.
“While we are prepared for a wide range of scenarios, we will focus right now on what needs to be done now and endeavour to make sure that is enough, that we don’t have to take future steps.”
Health Minister Patty Hajdu says the government expects between 30 and 70 per cent of Canadians could be infected by the novel coronavirus if the global pandemic reaches widespread transmission in Canada.
Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says of those who become sick, about six per cent would likely need intensive care based on the experience of other countries.
with files from The Canadian Press
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