What you need to know about COVID-19 in B.C. on April 20, 2020


  • Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry will give an update on COVID-19 cases in B.C. at 3 p.m.
  • Police now have the power to issue $2,000 fines for reselling and gouging prices for medical supplies.
  • The annual 420 cannabis celebration in Vancouver is being held virtually today.
  • 14 people were arrested after occupying a Vancouver elementary school for “emergency housing.”
  • As of Saturday, B.C. has 1,647 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
  • 81 people have died of the disease.
  • 115 people are in hospital with COVID-19, including 54 in intensive care.

British Columbians will receive an update from Dr. Bonnie Henry on the latest COVID-19 numbers over the past 48 hours at 3 p.m. PT today. 

As of Saturday, B.C. has 1,647 confirmed cases of the virus. Eighty-one people have died.

Over the weekend, B.C.’s Minister of Public Safety announced new enforcement measures for people who don’t follow provincial guidelines during the state of emergency. Mike Farnworth said he has now enabled police to issue $2,000 fines for people engaged in price gouging and reselling of medical supplies.

Farnworth said Consumer Protection B.C. has received more than 800 reports complaining about price gouging. 

People who fail to self-quarantine after returning from travel can also face fines. 

Farnworth said there is no plan to close down public spaces at beaches and in parks, as most are people complying with physical distancing.

The annual 420 protest at Sunset Beach in Vancouver has been cancelled and is instead being hosted virtually. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

420 event goes virtual

The annual 420 cannabis celebration, which normally draws thousands of people to Sunset Beach in Vancouver’s West End on April 20, has been cancelled. It will instead be hosted virtually.

Vancouver police said officers are still monitoring locations where smaller groups of people may gather, despite physical distancing measures in place to curb the spread of COVID-19.

“There is no group or area that has organized for any specific location, but we will be monitoring the traditional locations of Sunset Beach and the art gallery,” said Sgt. Aaron Roed in a statement emailed to CBC News. “VPD officers will also be monitoring any location that may pop up as a grouping location.”

Last year, police reported about 60,000 people attended the event. 

A group of approximately 30 homeless people and supporters are occupying Lord Strathcona Elementary School in East Vancouver. (Matthew McFarlane/CBC News)

School break-in ends with arrests

Vancouver police arrested 14 people on Saturday after a group of community members of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside broke into Lord Strathcona Elementary School to use it for what they called “emergency housing.”

Spokespeople for the group said the action was taken because it was impossible for thousands of homeless people to follow the provincial government’s instructions to stay home amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Police said they will pursue break-and-enter charges against the individuals arrested. 

Island music festival cancelled

On Sunday, the Vancouver Island MusicFest announced “with deep regret” that the event is postponed because of COVID-19. 

“It’s simply too risky for all of us,” the festival wrote in an email. 

The festival, which takes place in the Comox Valley, was scheduled for July 10 to 12.  

The latest COVID-19 numbers

As of Saturday, B.C. had 1,647 confirmed cases of the virus and 81 people had died. A total of 987 people have recovered and 115 people are in hospital, including 54 in intensive care.

The province says that if the number of people with active novel coronavirus infections continues on its downward trend, some currently restricted activities could be allowed as early as a month from now.

Until then, officials say British Columbians can’t let up on strict physical distancing measures and diligent hand washing to halt the spread of COVID-19.

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Important reminders:

Health officials widely agree the most important thing you can do to prevent coronavirus and other illnesses is to wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your face. 

The World Health Organization said more than 80 per cent of COVID-19 infections are estimated to be mild.

What’s happening elsewhere in Canada

As of 4 a.m. PT on Monday, provinces and territories had reported 35,056 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. A CBC News tally of COVID-19-related deaths, based on provincial and regional health data, as well as CBC’s reporting, listed 1,647 coronavirus-related deaths in Canada. There have been two reported COVID-19-related deaths of Canadians abroad.

The numbers are not a complete picture, as they don’t account for people who haven’t been tested, those being investigated as a potential case and people still waiting for test results. 

For a look at what’s happening across the country and the world, check the CBC interactive case tracker.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Common symptoms include:

But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia.

What should I do if I feel sick?

Stay home. Isolate yourself and call your local public health authority or 811. Do not visit an emergency room or urgent care centre to get tested.

Find information about COVID-19 from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

Non-medical information about COVID-19 is available in B.C. from 7:30 a.m.-8 p.m. PT, seven days a week at 1-888-COVID19 (1-888-268-4319).

What can I do to protect myself?

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. Keep them clean.
  • Keep at least two metres away from people who are sick.
  • When outside the home, keep two metres away from other people.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Masks won’t fully protect you from infection, but can help prevent you from infecting others.

More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government’s website.

If you have a COVID-19-related story we should pursue that affects British Columbians, please email us at [email protected]

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