Health Minister says next few weeks will be 'very, very difficult'

A 'struggle' for months: Dix

UPDATE: 4:30 p.m.

Hospitals across the province continue to free up beds in preparation for an influx of COVID-19 patients.

During Tuesday's daily press conference, Health Minister Adrian Dix said by cancelling elective surgeries and moving “alternate level of care” patients from hospitals to other facilities, they now have 3,866 free hospital beds. This leaves the province's hospital occupancy rate at 66 per cent, while ICU beds are at about 55 per cent.

Dix called these low levels of occupancy “unprecedented.”

“The number of cases we've been seeing will continue to rise,” he said. “The next few weeks will be very, very difficult. It will be sometime before we see the change we are all working towards.”

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the government is working to slow the rate of transmission of the virus, while also planning for the worst.

“What we're trying to do to break all of the chains of transmission to keep the people who are getting sick with this at a trickle, so we can handle the pressure,” she said. “If that doesn't work, we need to plan for the worst, which is making sure that we have lots of capacity. We have both the beds, the ventilators and most importantly the people.”

As of Tuesday, there are 617 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus in B.C., with 41 in the Interior Health region.

Fifty-nine of the cases have required hospitalization, while 173 people have fully recovered.

“This is going to be a struggle for weeks and for months. It's not going to end any time soon, there's not a quick fix," Dix said. "The public measures we're taking now, the measures we are all taking, will play a significant role in the outcome."

ORIGINAL: 3 p.m.

Another 145 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in British Columbia, bringing the total number in the province to 617. 

On Tuesday, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the new numbers include all new confirmations since Sunday afternoon, as Monday's press conference was held earlier than usual. Seventy-eight of the new cases were confirmed in the past 24 hours. 

In the Interior Health region, there are currently 41 confirmed cases of the virus, but it's unknown what areas these cases are in. 

No new COVID-19 related deaths have been confirmed at this time. 

More to come...

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