As other provinces prepare to release plans for restoring services and activities in the coronavirus pandemic, B.C. Premier John Horgan is remaining cautious about keeping a lid on risks of COVID-19 transmission.
“What I know for sure is that British Columbians don’t want to give up the progress we’ve made,” Horgan said as he took questions from reporters after his weekly cabinet meeting April 22.
That means non-essential travel continues to be discouraged and provincial parks remain closed to help keep people close to home as spring weather arrives, Horgan said. It does not mean additional travel restrictions on B.C. Ferries or other transportatation beyond what has been announced by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.
Horgan said expects to have a province-wide address prepared before the middle of May, but daily developments such as a COVID-19 outbreak at a poultry processing facility in Vancouver this week show how quickly things can change. Prince Edward Island and Saskatchewan are moving ahead this week, with much lower case counts than B.C., Ontario and Quebec.
One initiative announced by Horgan is a new focus on the province’s long-term project to increase broadband internet service to every populated corner of B.C. Horgan said he has instructed Citizens’ Services Minister Anne Kang to “accelerate” the program, partly due to the need for online delivery of health assessments by doctors and nurse practitioners.
Horgan also announced the latest of a series of urgent primary health care centres will open next week in the James Bay area of Victoria, saying the growing network of group clinics is more important now that the pandemic has occupied hospitals and kept many people away from them.
Health Minister Adrian Dix said April 21 a new urgent care centre in Vernon now has a permanent location. Another in Abbotsford has been in operation since April 17 as a COVID-19 assessment centre and will turn to general urgent care “at an appropriate time.”
Another urgent primary care centre opened April 6 in Castlegar, in a program begun two years ago to address the shortage of family doctors in many B.C. communities.