Amid challenge, Henry relishes chorus of clangs; more cases confirmed

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"It is with deepest condolences Island Health can confirm the deaths of two Island Health residents due to COVID-19", said Kathy MacNeil, Island Health president and CEO. In the Northern Health Region there are 5 people in critical care.

The six fatalities take the total number of COVID-19 related deaths in the province to 31. Seventy-two cases are on Vancouver Island.

There are 525 cases in Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH), 386 in Fraser Health, 72 on Vancouver Island and 121 in Interior Health.

According to Minister Dix, said there are 149 people in hospital and 5 of those in Northern Health.

"It's a challenging time".

On Thursday, Canada reached 10,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says in the face of a global pandemic there are many examples of generosity and caring - including the nightly outdoor cheer for front-line workers doing essential jobs.

Dix said there was "no excuse" for people who return from overseas not self-isolating for 14 days, although it doesn't appear that the order is necessarily enforced - it's more of an honour system.

On a more sombre tone, Henry said in addition to an overall ethics framework for COVID-19 now posted on the province's website (gov.bc.ca), a framework for allocation of scarce resources, such as ventilators, is in the final phases of completion.

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On Thursday, Henry also announced a new "community outbreak" in the Interior Health region: An inmate at Okanagan Correctional Centre has tested positive for the virus, she said.

"This is of course something we have been concerned about and planning for", Henry said. "This is the first test that has been positive in a (correctional) facility in British Columbia".

Corrections staff and provincial health authorities have been working together on measures to prevent an outbreak in B.C. prisons, including limiting visitors, health screening and keeping new inmates in isolation for the first 14 days, Henry said. An outbreak in a prison would be hard to contain if it got into the general population.

"The person who became ill was isolated", Henry said.

Provincial health authorities are preparing to receive some of the hundreds of Canadians who have been trapped on the cruise ships MS Zaandam and the MS Rotterdam off the coast of Florida.

Dr. Henry added there were an additional six deaths.

Holland America said 97 guests and 136 crew members on the ships have developed flu-like symptoms.

In regard to local travel, Henry asks everyone to forgo all non-essential travel to small, remote communities around the province.

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