Dr. Bonnie Henry, Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan hosted a conference call Tuesday, April 7, 2020, with about 130 faith leaders to discuss the Easter holiday and other upcoming celebrations. (John Horgan/Twitter)

B.C. faith leaders, Horgan discuss need for virtual religious ceremonies

Leaders were open to providing other ways to celebrate during the pandemic

People of faith in British Columbia were urged Tuesday to celebrate Easter and other coming religious holidays through virtual gatherings to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Easter celebrations are about to start followed by several other religious holidays, but those ceremonies must be different this year.

“We’ll be celebrating collectively around the world in ways we’ve never done before,” Henry said at a news conference.

Henry said she participated in a conference call Tuesday with about 130 faith leaders to discuss the Easter holiday and other upcoming celebrations. She said the leaders were open to providing other ways to celebrate during the pandemic to allow people to connect without threatening their health.

Premier John Horgan and Health Minister Adrian Dix were also part of the meeting, Henry said.

READ MORE: Don’t get away for Easter weekend, Dr. Bonnie Henry warns

“We can still celebrate and care for those around us in virtual ways,” she said. “I encourage people to continue to look for those connections online.

“To the followers and congregations around the province here in B.C., please, now is our time that we need to pay special attention to our elders and our seniors. Our elders hold our history, our language and our traditions and are a precious part of our communities around this province.”

Henry reported four deaths on Tuesday as a result of COVID-19, bringing the total to 43 in the province. She said 25 new cases have been diagnosed for a total of 1,291 people who have tested positive for the new coronavirus in B.C.

Henry said 805 people have fully recovered from the disease.

She said 138 people are being treated in hospital for COVID-19 and 66 of them are in intensive or critical care.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the Easter long weekend is usually a time for people in B.C. to visit cottages or take weekend trips, but this year they should stay home.

“When there is some evidence we are flattening the curve, we need to double down,” he said. “Let’s bend the curve, not the rules, this weekend.”

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

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