Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks about the future of restrictions for COVID-19 at the B.C. legislature, April 23, 2020. (B.C. government)

Hints of COVID-19 relief for B.C. as restaurants, haircuts considered

‘Halfway point’ for Canada, three months after B.C.’s first case

Almost three months after B.C. recorded its first case of COVID-19, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry is preparing for a “second phase” of health restrictions that eases restrictions on people and the economy.

Repeating her warning that some precautions against the novel coronavirus could be in place for a year, Henry said in her April 23 briefing that Canada and B.C. have reached the peak or “halfway point” of the pandemic. Henry said the target as Premier John Horgan prepares for an early-May address to the province on moving into the summer is a “manageable number” of daily cases, but she continued her policy of avoiding firm predictions of numbers or dates.

ALSO READ: Plan in the works for safe re-opening of B.C. restaurants amid COVID-19: BCRFA

“In several places around the world, including here in Canada, we’re at that or past that halfway point,” said Henry, who serves on a national committee with federal chief health officer Dr. Theresa Tam. “We have been fortunate in many ways in BC in that we have not had a dramatic increase – that accelerated upswing that we saw in many other places.

“And we need to continue to look at how we manage our pandemic in B.C. And we manage that risk going forward by opening up industry, by opening up our hospital system, but doing it in a way that includes vigilance and careful thinking, and it doesn’t mean that the virus is going away. To start doing that, we need to reach a manageable number of new cases.”

B.C.’s first recorded case of COVID-19 was reported Jan. 28, 2020. B.C.’s first patient visited Wuhan, the Chinese city where the new virus was first identified, and reported symptoms after he returned to his home in the Vancouver Coastal Health Region. The man was aware of the risk and “self-isolated” after his return, Henry said.

Restrictions soon followed, with large gatherings like sporting events banned March 14, school closures a day later as spring break was running out, and bars, barbers, and sit-down restaurant services shut by March 20.

Asked almost daily about personal services such as hair and nail salons, Henry debunked the suggestion that they have been without public health oversight since B.C.’s historic Barber Act was repealed in 2003. They are inspected and public complaints are acted upon, she said.

“This is an opportunity for us to reinforce the importance of some of those measures in, whether it’s a hair salon, a nail salon, a tattoo parlour, all of those places where we get services that can pose a risk of infectious disease transmission,” Henry said.

RELATED: B.C.’s latest COVID-19 modelling shows curve flattening

RELATED: B.C. families welcoming babies in COVID-19 restrictions

Health Minister Adrian Dix has indicated his top priority is resuming some of the 14,000 scheduled surgeries that have been postponed in the pandemic. After clearing 4,000 acute-care hospital beds and setting up new space in Vancouver and New Westminster to brace for severe COVID-19 cases, acute and intensive care admissions have peaked at fewer than 150 and have declined in recent days.

Henry has indicated that medical services such as physiotherapy are key to post-operative treatment for people undergoing procedures such as hip and knee replacement, the largest category of cancelled surgeries. Dentistry has been reduced to emergency only, but the longer basic care is suspended the more severe conditions will accumulate.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Health and safety regulations to be followed by schools as they reopen Monday

Ministry of Education wrote a letter to parents dated May 28.

B.C. Court of Appeal upholds lower court decision on western boundary of Treaty 8

Several first nations believe the western boundary was and always has been at the Rocky Mountains

School will look a lot different, says Fort St. James Secondary School principal

The principal wrote a letter to parents informing them about what to expect at school on June 1.

7 projects in Vanderhoof, Fraser Lake and Burns Lake receive NKDF funding

Nechako-Kitamaat Development Fund Society announced $139,702 in funding on May 29.

School buses for SD91 to start running from June 1

Parents urged to drop off and pick kids up whenever possible.

George Floyd asphyxiated by sustained pressure: family autopsy

Death sparked a wave of protests across the U.S. and abroad

COVID-19: B.C. commercial landlords can’t evict if they decline rent assistance

Emergency order ‘incentive’ for federal program, Carole James says

Investigators probe death of CN employee at Surrey rail yard

Transportation Safety Board is investigating an ‘occurrence that took place during switching operations’

Trans Mountain starts B.C. leg of pipeline twinning project

Mostly finished in Alberta, Burnaby terminal expanding

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

NDP getting COVID-19 wage subsidy ‘indirectly,’ B.C. Liberal leader says

Andrew Wilkinson says he’s heard no concerns from public

Love flourishes at Peace Arch Park, but COVID-19 concerns loom

South Surrey park becomes only place for international couples to meet

Most Read