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B.C. has 7 COVID-19 deaths; 186 cases, including 83 in past day

B.C.'s provincial health officer Bonnie Henry has also declared a public health emergency
The speed of transmission of the virus in B.C. is increasing | Shutterstock

What happened: B.C. reported March 17 that there have been 83 new cases of the COVID-19 virus identified since yesterday. That's a jump of more than 80% and makes a total of 186 cases. There have been seven deaths so far, up from a total of four yesterday – a 75% growth rate.

Why it matters: The spread of the virus is increasing in speed and has prompted B.C.'s provincial health officer Bonnie Henry to declare a public health emergency.

The Vancouver Coastal Health Region is hardest hit, with 116 cases. There are also:

•47 in Fraser Health;
•12 in Island Health
•seven in Interior Health; and 
•four in Northern Health.

Two of the new deaths were related to the outbreak at the Lynn Valley Care Centre. One death was a man in his 80s who lives in Fraser Health. 

Seven of the identified cases are in hospital with four in intensive care. The rest are in isolation at home and many have mild symptoms. 

"We have taken the extra step of declaring a public health emergency in the province of British Columbia," Henry said. "This is something that as you know we've had as a tool in our toolkit for some time. I felt that today this is the tool that we need now. We've taken a number of unprecedented measures in the last few days and this declaration of an emergency enables me to be faster, more streamlined and nimble in the things that we need to do right now."

She then ordered all pubs and clubs to close because she did not think that they could meet her test for social distancing.

"Restaurants and cafes in some cases can meet the criteria for physical distancing but. those who cannot maintain the physical distancing will need to close or move to take-out and delivery service." 

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