B.C. health officials call for virtual Canada Day celebrations to keep COVID-19 curve flat

Another 12 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in B.C., but no new deaths have been reported, B.C. health officials announced Tuesday.

To date, there have been 2,916 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in B.C., including 174 people who have died, according to Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix.

There are now 152 active cases of the disease in this province, while 2,590 people have recovered. Eighteen people are in hospital, including four in intensive care.

"Tomorrow, as we all celebrate Canada Day, we remind everyone to follow the rules for safe social interactions, limit your interactions and keep your bubbles small, maintain a safe distance from others and stay home if you are feeling ill," Henry and Dix said in a written statement.

"While this will be a different Canada Day for all of us, there are many virtual celebrations being planned and other fun ways to safely connect with friends and family. By doing our part, we can continue to keep our curve flat and protect our communities and those we care for most."

The provincial totals to date do not include two residents of Holy Family Hospital who died over the weekend. According to Providence Health, which operates the Vancouver care home, there's often a lag in reporting while provincial officials collect data from across the province.

To date, five residents of Holy Family Hospital have died of COVID-19.

Earlier Tuesday, Henry and Dix announced that B.C. is easing restrictions on visitors to long-term care homes. 

Residents will be able to see one person at a time in a designated area. The visits will be booked in advance and can happen indoors, outdoors or, in some cases, in a single room. Visitors will be screened for illness upon entry and must wear a mask.

"Today is a positive day for all British Columbians. With the necessary pieces in place, long-term care facilities and seniors assisted-living residences can now begin allowing visitors," Dix and Henry said.

"British Columbians have flattened the curve, single-site staffing is in place and facilities have been given the additional resources to safely allow for seniors and Elders who have been separated from their loved ones to connect once again."

There are currently four active outbreaks in long-term care homes and one in an acute care unit of a hospital.