CINDY E. HARNETT
A seventh case of the novel coronavirus has been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the number of cases in Canada to 11.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Monday the man is a close contact of another infected person, a woman who returned to the province last week from travel in Iran. Both are in stable condition and in isolation in the Fraser Valley.
The first person in B.C. with COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has recovered. Three people are recovering at home, and another is no longer symptomatic.
“This is a rapidly evolving situation,” Henry said. Health officials are confident they have identified all the contacts of the new cases and there’s no reason for anyone in the public to go in for testing unless contacted by public health officials.
COVID-19 is primarily spread through close contact with an infected person and breathing in droplets that are in the air after someone coughs.
There are almost 78,000 cases of confirmed cases of COVID-19 around the world after it broke out in Wuhan, China, in December. Some health officials are warning that the time to contain coronavirus is running out, a time sensitivity that Henry raised as she spoke to the media.
“I think it’s really important to recognize that the global situation is evolving also very rapidly and we’ve heard over the weekend of the dramatic increase in the number of cases in a number of countries, particularly in Italy, and around the world,” she said.
“We are still very much in what we call containment here in British Columbia. Although there is widespread transmission in some areas of the world, we are not in that position yet, but we are preparing for that. We are preparing for all of the possibilities that we might see over the coming weeks.”
Henry said health officials are hoping the new coronavirus will be similar to influenza and other respiratory viruses that circulate during winter and typically wane in early spring.
“But we are not out of the woods yet, and, really, that buys us time,” she said.
If the virus can’t be contained and eradicated from human transmission, Henry said it might arise next influenza season, by which time anti-viral medications and a vaccine could be developed.
Public health officials continue to stress simple hygiene regimes: washing hands, coughing into sleeves and staying away from others if you’re sick.
B.C. is not screening at airports but is stepping up advice and measures for travellers, Henry said, without sharing specifics.
Many more Canadians who were outside of the country have tested positive for the virus.
They include 129 people who were aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which was docked in Yokohama, Japan, since early February, being repatriated to Cornwall, Ont., on Friday. They will be in isolation for 14 days.
Henry asked anyone travelling internationally to monitor themselves and their children. Anyone with symptoms should limit their contact with others and contact their primary care provider, local public health office or call the 811 healthline to reduce the possibility of passing the virus on to others.
B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Henry said Monday that B.C. has a robust system for identifying people who have the virus and the number of cases here is low.
Testing for the disease is being conducted by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control and is no longer being sent for confirmation to the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg.
— With a file from The Canadian Press