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B.C. confirms 21 new cases of COVID-19, for total of 2,428

There has been one additional death.
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Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media on Saturday, May 16. | Screenshot

There are now 2,428 cases of COVID-19 in B.C., after health officials announced 21 new cases Saturday, May 16.

According to provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, there are 878 cases in Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH), 1,184 in Fraser Health, 126 on Vancouver Island, 181 in Interior Health and 59 in Northern Health.

In total, 15 long-term care or assisted-living facilities and five acute-care units have active cases. "We have additional cases within those areas, with now 326 residents or patients affected and 199 staff," Henry said. This includes the new acute-care outbreak in the ICU at the Abbotsford Regional Hospital officials announced this week, which Henry said is currently affecting six staff members and two patients. An investigation is ongoing. 

There are no new community outbreaks to report on Saturday, though public health officials are continuing to investigate the most recent community outbreak at the Oppenheimer Group, a fruit and vegetable processing plant in Coquitlam. 

Public health teams are also continuing to provide support for community outbreaks in the poultry sector, at the Mission Institution and with those connected to the Kearl Lake plant in Alberta.

There was one new death announced Saturday, bringing B.C.'s total number of fatalities due to COVID-19 to 141. 

Currently, there are 355 active cases of COVID-19 in the province, of which 49 people are hospitalized. Eleven people are in critical care. 

Henry reported that 1,932 people who tested positive for the virus in B.C. have recovered.

On Saturday, Henry thanked British Columbians who have taken the time to fill out the province's 'Your story, our future,' survey, but noted that the government would like to hear from more seniors, as well as B.C. residents who live outside major urban centres. "Anybody who works with anybody who is marginalized or vulnerable, who may not have access to a computer or a telephone, please find ways to encourage and to assist these people, your clients, to take this survey as well," said Henry. "We want to make sure everybody's stories are heard."

As the province "cautiously" moves towards its second phase of reopening with a gradual easing of restrictions, Henry warned that "we have to move carefully, and we have to move thoughtfully.

"Much of the spread of COVID-19 has occurred because in the early stages of symptoms, it's often mild, and people may not recognize it," Henry explained, adding that the risk for transmission is greatest in groups, indoors. 

"We must continue to stay alert and stay vigilant," she said. On this May long weekend, Henry encouraged British Columbians to "pause, stay close to home and think through how all of us in B.C. will put into place our new social interaction rules in the coming days and weeks."

Beginning Tuesday, May 19, many businesses that had been closed due to the pandemic can "begin the process of safely reopening," said Henry. The public health officer's revised orders can be found on the province's website

The most important thing we can do to keep our communities safe is to "make a pact with each other that we are going to keep our germs to ourselves and stay away from others if we're feeling unwell," Henry continued.

That means staying home when you're sick, and "never allowing anyone with symptoms to come into your place of work," she said. "This applies to you, your employees and customers. You need to have the appropriate protocols in place to identify anyone who's feeling unwell, and ensure that they have the ability to remain away from work or school.

"There can be no flexibility on this piece."

During Friday's briefing, Henry added that spending time in B.C.'s provincial parks is a great way to stay close to home and get some fresh air. However, they are only open for day use, and we must, "put our safe social interaction ‘rules’ into action."

Yesterday, “education and child care guidance was also released to allow schools to once again begin in-class learning on June 1 and prepare for a full return in September," she explained. “Our schools and daycares will look and feel different, but they will operate in the safest way possible for everyone – for staff, students and families."

“From the start of this pandemic, British Columbians have demonstrated incredible compassion and care for our health-care workers, seniors, Elders and our communities. The result has been the flattening of our curve.

"Let’s keep working through this together.”

- With files from Elana Shepert.