By Lyonel Doherty
The province has confirmed that one inmate at Okanagan Correctional Centre near Oliver has been tested positive for the coronavirus.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry reported the case during today’s COVID-19 update from Victoria.
She noted the inmate has been isolated and fellow inmates living in the same “pod” are being closely monitored. So far, no other cases have been identified, but Henry said they won’t know for sure until two weeks have gone by.
Henry reported there are 55 new cases of COVID-19 in the province, bringing the total to 1,121, including 121 cases in the Interior Health region. Yesterday there were 114 cases in the region and a total of 1,066 in B.C.
Henry said there are still outbreaks in 21 long-term care facilities, with 149 people hospitalized (68 in critical care).
Sadly, she reported an additional six deaths, which brings the total to 31 in B.C.
But the good news is 641 people have fully recovered from the virus, she pointed out.
Henry said they have been preparing for potential outbreaks in the province’s prisons, with enhanced surveillance, visitor restrictions and health checks.
She noted that all new incoming inmates are isolated for 14 days before being placed in the general population.
The COVID-19 case in Okanagan Correctional Centre is reportedly the first positive test case in a B.C. prison.
As for releasing non-violent inmates to prevent the spread of the virus, that issue is being left up to the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, Henry said.
The health officer stated that everyone needs to be incredibly careful about what they do, noting there are more than one million cases of COVID-19 in the world today. She said the numbers are increasing across Canada.
But part of the reason B.C. is managing its numbers is because of what residents are doing (keeping their distance and self-isolating) to prevent the spread.
Henry pointed out that some B.C. residents are being flown home from cruise ships, so they will be complying with these strict orders.
Both Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix urged people to refrain from all non-essential travel anywhere.
“This is not the time to travel for tourism purposes, this is a time to stay close, to stay home and only go out for essentials,” Dix said.
As for personal protective equipment for health care workers, the government is receiving supplies on a regular basis, the minister stated.
Henry expressed words of encouragement, saying B.C. will get through the pandemic, adding that people need to “keep the firewall strong.”