Stay the course, Dr. Bonnie Henry tells B.C.

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As a result, the rate of new infections has slowed, Henry said, which needs to continue "for us to be able to move to the next stage".

It is an increase of two cases from yesterday.

Documents presented Friday show B.C. hiked the number of critical-care beds to nearly 1,000 to brace for the pandemic, but there were only 58 COVID-19 patients in them at last count.

Henry said the data showed that most people diagnosed with COVID-19 range between 30 years and 60 years old, but most people admitted to the intensive care unit are between 50 years and 79 years old.

"B.C. COVID-19 cases have plateaued and started to decline in terms of hospitalization", Dix said.

There are now 119 people with the virus in the province who are hospitalized and 52 of those people are in critical care.

If scheduled, non-urgent surgeries resume, that will reduce the extra capacity now in place to deal with a surge in COVID-19 cases, he said.

But in Friday's update, health officials said B.C.'s epidemic curve has been "well below projections based on the Italy and Hubei experience".

Henry and Dix also said there are now 63 COVID-19 cases associated with the federal prison in Mission, with six people in hospital.

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The provincial health officer pointed to data from Google and the BC Centre for Disease Control which illustrated how provincial interventions like restricting gatherings and closing schools and businesses put downward pressure on the rate of the spread of the virus.

"We are not at the point when we can let up our guard... the risk of a spike or another outbreak is a real concern to me", Henry said.

But having said all that, she added a note of caution about the new normal in B.C., one that will be with us for the rest of this year and probably into the next.

"What we have done has made a difference", says Henry."We must hold the line". To safely ease restrictions, we must be thoughtful and careful in our approach.

The threat will only end when the majority of people in the community are immune, either because they have had COVID-19 and survived or because a vaccine has been developed, she said. For example, physical distancing would be expected to continue in grocery stores.

Some countries are beginning to lift restrictions, trying to find a balance between reopening society and the economy while not triggering a resurgence in cases.

"It's not going to be as restrictive as we are now, but we need to have those safeguards in place so that we can monitor things in time".

"We thank the many researchers and epidemiology experts at the BCCDC, Simon Fraser University and the University of British Columbia for their collective efforts on the important modelling work".

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