Peace Arch border crossing. (Aaron Hinks photo)

Live updates: Latest on COVID-19 pandemic in Surrey, White Rock and beyond

MARCH 19: Trudeau says social distancing to take place 'anywhere from weeks to months'

The latest from Surrey, White Rock and beyond on the COVID-19 pandemic for Thursday, March 19. This story will be updated as new information becomes available.

In a press conference Thursday afternoon, provincial health officials announced:

• 40 new cases to report, bringing total to 271 cases. In Fraser Health region, there are 81 cases.

• Of the cases, 17 are in hospital. Only five are on the ‘recovered’ list.

Asked if Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry expects a further “clamp down” after hearing evidence of businesses not following social distancing requirements, Henry said:

“We are obviously watching this very carefully. I can’t say it enough, this is not optional, this is for everybody. We do have the legal authorities to enforce it. I’m calling on peoples civic duty to do this. This is in your best interest to take these measures…

It’s incredibly important right now that everybody take these measures. If you cannot do it in your business, then you need to shut it down for now. There is support that will be there for you.”

• Henry encouraged people to get outside. “You can walk your pet, you can go for a bike ride, you can play with your kids. These are things that you want to do in a small group.”

• Henry said public needs to stay connected while we’re staying apart.

• Henry said right now is the time that everybody has to “lay low,” and only shop if necessary. “This is not business as usual,” she said.

• On mental health, Henry said she knows there is a lot of anxiety and “almost a sense of fear.” She stressed that it’s important to stay connected.

• Dr. Henry said supply chains are strong, and encourage people to slow down and be thoughtful when shopping.

In a press conference Thursday afternoon, Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum announced:

• Core services the City of Surrey provides will be maintained.

• McCallum asks residents of Surrey for their patience.

• Surrey RCMP and Surrey Fire Services are taking steps to make sure safety is not compromised.

• Modifications have been made at city hall, such as hand sanitizing stations at entries and exits.

• City began implementing remote work options and expanded remote inspections while keeping projects going.

• City of Surrey operated day-camps and day-cares will be shut down to the public, effective March 23.

• Actively working with province on what can be done with property taxes. No announcement yet.

• McCallum described City of Surrey residents as “very calm,” and there is a “calm nature in the city right now.”

• McCallum says the city has enough sanitary supplies, such as hand sanitizer, for city employees.

• McCallum said city is producing its own hand sanitizer.

Other news:

Concerns are being raised on social media that people are packing White Rock’s pier, promenade and waterfront in large numbers during the COVID-19 pandemic, despite a recommendation from the provincial government that all residents practise “social distancing.”

• Cloverdale rugby team returns home from U.K. after tour was cut short by COVID-19. Rugby players in Surrey, begin two weeks of self-isolation.

• A Peace Arch Park RV resident says not all returning snowbirds are self-isolating for 14 days – which is a requirement of the provincial government due to the threat of COVID-19 transmission.

• White Rock/South Surrey Facebook COVID-19 group aims to connect helpers with those in need

• The B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) has asked all teachers to return to schools after spring break even though students won’t be there.

• Canada’s foreign affairs minister was tested for COVID-19, and in isolation with ‘flu like’ symptoms

• B.C.’s online self-assessment tool for COVID-19 rose to a million users within days of being launched, and people are starting to use the new toll-free line for non-medical information about the coronavirus outbreak.

This morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced:

• The border between Canada and the U.S. will close sometime on Friday night.

• Details on the non-essential border closure were still being worked out with the American government, Trudeau said.

• Trudeau promises $25 million for researchers coming up with tests, treatments and cures for COVID-19. He said more than 50,000 Canadians have been tested for the coronavirus.

• Trudeau said Canadian Blood Services still needs blood donations.

• Help your neighbours grocery shop, support and show gratitude to health care works, truckers, and anyone who has to work amid COVID-19.

• Social distancing will need to continue “anywhere from weeks to months,” he said.

• Trudeau says Canada is “considering using any measures necessary” to make sure enough medical supplies exist. He said government will look at military production if needed.

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