Premier John Horgan, Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives an update on B.C.’s response to COVID-19 in Vancouver, B.C., on March 6, 2020. (Karissa Gall/Black Press Media)

VIDEO: B.C. premier, health officials unveil response plan for COVID-19

Plan is to be ready to operate under an outbreak that lasts up to four months

The B.C. government is activating its pandemic plan to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak that has sickened 21 people in the province.

Speaking at a media conference on March 6 in Vancouver, Health Minister Adrian Dix said the government’s priority is still to contain and slow the outbreak through testing, border surveillance and isolation, “but be prepared.”

As of the night before the conference, Dix said the province had tested 2,803 samples involving 2,008 individuals. By the end of next week it will have four additional labs for testing and over the next month it will acquire additional machines.

To meet staffing demands in the event of a larger outbreak, he said “B.C. is currently in the process of establishing a list of health care workers who can be rapidly redeployed” either locally or provincially, and is working with professional colleges to register health care workers who can be redeployed from other parts of the country.

ALSO READ: Eight new B.C. coronavirus cases, one with no travel link

Protocols to de-escalate or “decant” hospitals are also being put in place to ensure health care capacity, he said. For example, by sending low-risk patients home sooner and deferring scheduled surgeries deemed non-urgent.

He said the province has already implemented hospital-wide protocols to safely triage and separate anyone presenting with respiratory illness.

As for medical supplies, he said “B.C. will be receiving a large shipment of additional supplies in the coming days” and will coordinate distribution provincially.

Overall, he said the province is ready to use emergency powers to protect the population, health workers and the health system’s capacity to help patients with other problems.

Premier John Horgan said a deputy ministers committee will oversee the response and report to a cabinet committee co-chaired by him and Dix.

Horgan also said the provincial pandemic plan is to be ready to operate under an outbreak that lasts up to four months.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry added that of the 21 people who have tested positive for the new coronavirus, four have recovered and only one is in hospital in the intensive care unit.

She said the condition of the woman in her 80s has improved.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

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

Just Posted

Major wreck closes Hwy 16 at Woodmere Rd

Traffic being rerouted, expect delays until at least 4 p.m.

Minor parties scramble to get candidates nominated for Stikine

Taylor wants to be Christian Heritage Party candidate, Repen makes bid to represent Rural BC Party

Local M.D. urges keeping social bubbles to six

“This situation is happening in our own communities:” Dr. Kate Niethammer

Cullen confirmed as B.C. NDP candidate for Stikine despite party’s equity policy

Former Tahltan Central Government President Annita McPhee said the process made her feel “abused”

Who is or may be running in Stikine in the provincial election

Cullen nomination sparks controversy over NDP equity policy

BC Liberal Leader talks drug addiction in the Lower Mainland

Drug addiction and public safety a top priority says Andrew Wilkinson

Pandemic derails CP Holiday Train

Canadian Pacific will work to get donations to food banks while also producing an online music concert

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Vanderhoof’s Brian Frenkel takes on top job in tough times

We can get through this, new local government leader says

Local councils important, Horgan says as municipal conference ends

B.C. NDP leader says ‘speed dating’ vital, online or in person

Penticton woman sentenced to one year in prison for manslaughter of teen boyfriend

Kiera Bourque, 24, was sentenced for manslaughter in the 2017 death of Penticton’s Devon Blackmore

B.C. Green leader says NDP abandoning environmental plan

Horgan’s claim of unstable government false, Furstenau says

Most Read