B.C. has announced a 13th COVID-19 case in the province.
According to Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, the B.C. Health Minister, the patient is a woman in her 80s who is in critical condition in the ICU at Vancouver General Hospital. She had returned from India and Hong Kong a week ago.
She is the 13th case in the province. The woman lives in the Vancouver Coastal Health region and has underlying health issues.
The woman became ill a couple of days after returning home, Henry said. Henry said there was only one really close contact who is in isolation.
Henry said the woman was on a tour in India and all other tour members are being contacted. According to Henry, other Canadians who returned to other regions outside B.C. were on the tour.
Henry said Hong Kong has been notified.
Of the 13 cases in B.C., four cases have recovered and the rest are recovering at home. Dix said the government is committed to doing a regular briefing every Tuesday and then provide updates as more cases develop.
On Tuesday, B.C. announced four new cases of the novel coronavirus, all linked to Iran.
There are also 20 cases in Ontario and one in Quebec, making Canada’s total number of infections at 13.
B.C. is asking travellers from China and Iran to isolate themselves for 14 days when they return home to Canada.
“The risk is changing day by day globally and we are continuing to monitor carefully,” Henry told a news conference at the legislature on Wednesday.
“Within British Columbia the risk still remains very low.”
Henry said anyone else who thinks they may have COVID-19 should call ahead before seeing a healthcare provider. She is also reminding people about taking precautions to prevent transmission, such as staying home when ill, regular handwashing and touching your face. People who are ill or are at risk of being ill are advised not to travel and avoid large public gatherings.
“This is not a normal time. It’s not a normal time in B.C. even though the risk here is still low. But globally we are all dealing with this crisis and we’re going to be for some weeks now,” Henry said.
Henry said officials are preparing for a possible outbreak.
READ MORE: Growing fears as COVID-19 outbreak causes international tourism drop in B.C.
In Washington state, 10 people have died and a total of 39 people in King and Snohomish counties have tested positive for coronavirus.
A state of emergency has been declared for Snohomish County and the city of Everett due to the coronavirus. Snohomish County’s Health Officer Dr. Chris Spitters has also declared a public health emergency for the county.
In King County, where Seattle is located, state and local health officials have announced new guidelines for residents aimed at reducing their exposure to COVID-19. King County declared an emergency declaration earlier thsi week.
Public Health – Seattle & King County is recommending but not requiring, the following steps:
- People at higher risk of severe illness should stay home and away from large groups of people as much as possible, including public places with lots of people and large gatherings where there will be close contact with others. People at higher risk include:
- People 60 and older
- People with underlying health conditions including heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes
- People who have weakened immune systems
- People who are pregnant
- Workplaces should enact measures that allow people who can work from home to do so. Taking these measures can help reduce the number of workers who come into contact with COVID-19 and help minimize absenteeism due to illness
- If you can feasibly avoid bringing large groups of people together, consider postponing events and gatherings.
- Public Health is not recommending closing schools at this time unless there has been a confirmed case in the school. Public Health – Seattle & King County also respects an individual school’s decisions about closures or postponement of activities as each school knows the needs of their community best.
- All people should not go out when they are sick.
- Avoid visiting hospitals, long term care facilities, or nursing homes to the extent possible. If you need to go, limit your time there and keep six feet away from patients.
Henry said she expects more cases will be identified in Washington state. No extra border measures are recommended at this time.
Meanwhile, Canadian military personnel in Iraq are on high alert following reports the novel coronavirus is spreading within the country.
Chief of the defence staff Gen. Jonathan Vance says troops have been ordered to protect themselves, including through proper hygiene and keeping their distance from Iraqi forces who may be infected with the virus, which can cause a respiratory illness known as COVID-19.
Two people are believed to have died from the disease in Iraq – one in Baghdad and the other in the northern Kurdistan region where Canadian special forces have been operating for several years.
The reports follow concerns about a major outbreak in neighbouring Iran that has raised concerns about it spreading to other parts of the Middle East.
Vance says he is worried about the virus spreading in countries with inadequate health-care systems that make it difficult to detect and treat.
At the same time, Vance says the Canadian Armed Forces is stepping up its planning for how to respond to a potential pandemic here in Canada, including how to handle a situation where up to a quarter of all military members are sick and unable to work.
READ MORE: Coronavirus: Left with no option, not all sick employees can afford to stay home
More information on novel coronavirus can be found on the BC Centre for Disease Control website.
With files from The Canadian Press