VICTORIA, B.C. – Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, says British Columbia is flattening the curve and is experiencing a slowing rate of new diagnoses and stabilization of COVID-19 patients in hospital, as shown in modelling released on Friday.

According to Henry, the slowdown is due to public health action and while the rate is slowing, people must continue to practice physical distancing in order to keep the rate low and could continue for the next 12 to 18 months before a vaccine is released.

Henry says the province’s curve has been well below projections based on data from Italy and Hubei, China. The Province is now looking more toward the experience of South Korea.

As a result of the slowdown, Henry says the Province is beginning to develop two new models to help with decision-making going forward, one predicting new cases in the short-term, assuming no change in current measures, and one simulating what could happen if levels of physical distancing change.

Henry also says, moving forward, testing for COVID-19 will be open to more people.

Deputy Minister of Health, Stephen Brown, says the Province is prepared and well equipped, with ventilators and beds, to deal with critical ill patients.

As for the healthcare system, Henry says the plan is to try and get the system working again by the middle of May.