Every health region in BC has COVID-19 patients

FILE- Dr. Henry said Tuesday the recorded number of coronavirus cases in B.C. is now 617

The models also suggest that B.C. hospitals are "reasonably" prepared to handle a surge in critical COVID-19 patients.

British Columbia has cleared hospital space for nearly 4,000 possible COVID-19 patients, but potential shortages of personal protective equipment for health workers has become "our wicked problem", provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Wednesday.

But all it would take is for one church group that flouted prohibitions on large gatherings, one plane returning from overseas with an infected person or one remote work camp with an infection outbreak to have seed the virus somewhere, where it could explode.

However, she pointed out they won't really know this until the next week or two.

Henry said she's only "cautiously optimistic" about B.C.'s trajectory and says the province has not yet flattened its curve.

Henry said other measures are also helping curb the spread of COVID-19, including a testing strategy that is on par with Singapore and South Korea, which have been seen as gold standards when it comes to response to the novel coronavirus.

However, she added that new cases are still being confirmed.

"And as well we have many care aides who have joined and rejoined in support of healthcare facilities in B.C., and all I can say is how much we appreciate how much that demonstrates our shared commitment and the extraordinary commitment of all healthcare workers to the care of people in BC".

Of the 725 people who have tested positive, 186 have fully recovered and are no longer in isolation.

Bonnie Henry continues to implore people to follow the social distancing (two metre) rule.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the models are meant to help the province plan and prepare.

"That compares to what is ordinarily the case which is about 103.5 per cent", Dix said.

She warned that B.C.is still vulnerable to outbreaks and clusters of cases.

- Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said the order suspends the many community states of emergency already in place to avoid a patchwork response to the pandemic, adding the suspension does not apply to Vancouver, which has its own community charter. It's fallen to 12 per cent since physical distancing measures were enacted.

The decision to defer scheduled surgeries put B.C.in position to respond to an epidemic level like the one in the Chinese province of Hubei, the government said, although that could vary in different regions of the province.

But so far, the measures are having the desired effect, said Henry. "I do want to see that dramatically decreasing".

Henry urged all returning travellers to self-isolate, and discouraged all non-essential travel anywhere.

Seventeen hospitals have been identified as primary COVID-19 critical care centres.



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