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Key developments in British Columbia's COVID-19 response

VANCOUVER — A look at some of the key developments in British Columbia's fight against COVID-19 on Thursday: — The provincial government invoked extraordinary emergency powers to protect consumers from profiteers and to maintain the steady supply of
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VANCOUVER — A look at some of the key developments in British Columbia's fight against COVID-19 on Thursday:

— The provincial government invoked extraordinary emergency powers to protect consumers from profiteers and to maintain the steady supply of goods and services for those who need them.

— Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said the order suspends the many community states of emergency already in place to avoid a patchwork response to the pandemic, adding the suspension does not apply to Vancouver, which has its own community charter.

— Municipal bylaw officers will be permitted to enforce orders from the provincial health officer limiting the size of gatherings and business closures.

— The province is looking to use vacant convention centres and other large community spaces for overflow health facilities.

— Another 66 people in B.C. have been diagnosed with COVID-19 for a total of 725 cases in the province. The number of deaths remained at 14 on Thursday.

— Vancouver is opening two emergency response centres in the city's downtown to create additional spaces for homelessness people.

— Seniors and those who want to help them are being urged to call the 211 helpline to connect them to support, as seniors advocate Isobel Mackenzie says there are volunteers who want to pick up groceries and medications or drop off a meal for them.

— British Columbia's College of Pharmacists is telling its members not fill prescriptions based on growing demands on social media for access to antiviral or antibiotic drugs to treat COVID-19, adding that a proven treatment does not yet exist and using unproven therapies is not only dangerous, but could risk the health of those who need those drugs for legitimate treatments.

— Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart says the federal government will allow a safe supply of drugs to be distributed in the Downtown Eastside as it copes with two health emergencies: COVID-19 and a poisoned drug supply. Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, says the province has developed new guidelines that will allow doctors to prescribe drugs to illicit users so they are able to comply with self-isolation requirements.

— Health Minister Adrian Dix says staff at the government's 811 health helpline managed to answer 5,070 calls on Wednesday, dealing with the anxiety and the realities of being sick with COVID-19.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 26, 2020.

The Canadian Press





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