Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry presents B.C.’s first COVID-19 model for hospital preparation, March 27, 2020. (B.C. government)

B.C. records 170 ‘excess deaths’ so far during COVID-19 pandemic

Dr. Bonnie Henry calls this week ‘the end of our beginning’

The number of deaths in B.C. is up 2.7 per cent above normal since COVID-19 infections began to be detected in February, with most of those attributable to the coronavirus and its effect on vulnerable populations.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry released B.C.’s latest disease modelling data May 4, showing a continued decline in people sick enough to be in hospital, as the province prepares to loosen movement and business restrictions. Statistics show there were 170 deaths more than the expected level from January to late April, with 111 of those attributed to COVID-19. Of the 60 additional deaths, some of that may be a result of people avoiding hospital care due to the pandemic.

“This is I believe the end of our beginning of this pandemic,” Henry said, after releasing the latest two days of positive test data showing 53 new cases from May 2 to 4.

Henry released model projections showing increased unprotected contact between people and their risk of increasing the number of cases, as hospital space is returned to scheduled surgeries and other non-COVID-19 medical conditions.

Premier John Horgan is expected to announce specific measures to allow more business and social movement after the B.C. cabinet meets on Wednesday, May 6.

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“We need to do that now in a controlled way, in a managed way, in a safe way,” Henry said, using the example of inviting friends over in the summer.

“When you invite one person outside of your immediate household bubble into your home, you are also inviting all of the people in their bubble, the people they’ve had contact with,” Henry said. “And that includes people from their work, from their home and others that they’ve had close contact with.”

Physical distance strategies and creating safe ways of interacting are important to keep the infection rate from taking off, she said.

“We’re going to be working on increasing our environmental cleaning, considering the use of non-medical masks and of course we need to consider as well our non-essential travel and how we’re going to manage that through the summer months.”


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