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BREAKING: BC declares health emergency with 83 new cases today and seven deaths

In a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry declared a provincial public health emergency, explaining there are now 83 new BC cases of COVID-19, bringing the provincial total to 186.

There have also been three new deaths in the province: Two of the deaths were at the North Vancouver, where four other people have died from the virus, and an 80-year-old man who succumbed in hospital in the Fraser Health region on Monday.

She said seven people have been hospitalized, four in intensive care, but Henry said the majority of cases are being treated in isolation at home.

She also said the numbers reflect a much higher rate of testing, and encouraged people not to panic.

“This is a time to be kind, to be calm and to be safe,” she said.

She and Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, said there is a new, online self-assessment tool for people to determine whether they need to be tested – if you are symptom-free, she said, the test won’t even work, so going in for testing is putting yourself at pointless risk.

They also underscored the importance of slowing the virus’ movement through self-quarantine and social distance, careful hygiene (handwashing, not touching your face).

She said risk factors are highest for people over the age of 65, but that fluctuates depending on the individual.

“Bars and clubs don’t meet the requirement of physical distance, and will have to close,” she said, adding some restaurants can meet the standard and can remain open, while others are finding creative solutions with delivery, pick-up, etc. to minimize person-to-person contact.

The last time BC declared a provincial public health emergency was in 2016 due to the opiod crisis.

The press conference is continuing, and there will be more information to follow.