B.C. health officials are recommending people don’t travel outside Canada, and directing organizers cancel any events that expect to host more than 250 people.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said Thursday that B.C. residents have a choice whether they want to risk going to the U.S. or another country, but if they do they should expect to be in isolation for 14 days when they return.
“The situation is just too risky right now,” Henry told reporters in Victoria, as sporting events and other large gatherings began to be postponed around North America.
Dix said B.C. schools and post-secondary institutions are to continue operating. Public employees who travel outside Canada will be required to self-isolate by their employers, and everyone should reconsider anything other than essential travel beyond Canada.
“Buy a litre of milk in White Rock instead of a quart of milk in Bellingham,” Dix advised.
Dix acknowledged that it is not within B.C.’s jurisdiction to stop people at the border, “but it’s our expectation that should people go to the United States for something so important that they feel they need to go, that it be important enough that they would choose to self-isolate for 14 days.”
As of today we are directing all event organizers to cancel any gathering larger than 250ppl.— Adrian Dix (@adriandix) March 12, 2020
We are recommending against all non-essential travel outside of Canada, including to the United States.
Anyone choosing to travel is required to self-isolate for 14 days upon return.
Henry said B.C. has identified seven new cases as of Thursday, for a total of 53. Two of the cases are at a senior care home in West Vancouver, detected during a check for seasonal influenza that is an annual threat to senior facilities every winter. One resident, a man in his 90s, tested positive.
Two are care home employees who also work at the Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver, where Canada’s first COVID-19 death occurred. The employees are a man and woman, both in their 40s, who are recovering at home in the Fraser Health region.
All of the new cases are in the Lower Mainland, including two women who were on a tour of Egypt that has produced other positive tests from returning travellers.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau switched this week’s first ministers’ meeting to a conference call. Horgan is expected to use the national meeting to enhance Employment Insurance sickness benefits to cover a larger portion of a person’s income while they are self-isolating or are in quarantine for COVID-19 exposure.
Horgan also wants EI benefits temporarily exended to workers who currently don’t meet EI qualifications, such as people who are self-employed.