Here are the latest developments in regards to the novel coronavirus in British Columbia:
Two more ‘community cases’
Two of the seven cases announced yesterday by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry have been confirmed as community cases. That brings the province’s total to three instances where the person has had no known contact with another confirmed case. Dr. Henry says there are 39 cases overall in the province as of Tuesday evening, but that community cases bring officials a level of concern. The two new community cases are a man in his 90s and a man in his 40s. The province is currently investigating these cases in an effort to figure out where they contracted the disease.
Upcoming BC press conference today at 3:30 pm PT
Dr. Henry, along with BC Health Minister Adrian Dix, are scheduled to make another COVID-19 update today at 3:30 pm from the BC Legislature in Victoria. CHEK News will have the details of their announcement as soon as they are made available.
Island schools preparing deep cleans
A two-week March break is coming up for elementary and secondary schools across the Island, beginning on Friday. The opportunity will bring some relief as educators and students will be able to steer clear of a busy public building, but it will also provide an opportunity to scrub down facilities as a precautionary measure. Local school districts say they plan to take the opportunity to deep clean and disinfect while students are away as well as keep in close contact with international students.
Trudeau announces $1B fund to respond to COVID-19
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Canadian government are launching a $1-billion response fund to help Canadians mitigate risks in the fight to contain the novel coronavirus. The federal funding is targeted at supporting the provincial health-care systems as well as workers who are forced to isolate themselves. Part of the plan also includes waiving the one-week waiting period to apply for employment insurance. As of Wednesday morning, Canada had a reported 97 confirmed cases.
Canadian from Grand Princess tests positive
A Canadian under quarantine at an Ontario military base after leaving the contaminated Grand Princess cruise ship in California has tested positive for coronavirus. Officials say the person seemed healthy upon leaving the ship but was found to have a mild fever and cough in an assessment at CFB Trenton. They are still currently in isolation at the base with hundreds of other Canadians. The Grand Princess is the first cruise ship scheduled to come to Victoria this season on April 3 and at this time, there have been no schedule changes.
Air Canada changes more policies
Air Canada has said travellers can now change their tickets up to 24 hours before their flights without incurring a re-booking fee. The new policy allows passengers to make a one-time change to any ticket purchased between March 4 and March 31. This is the latest policy change from the airline company, who has already temporarily cancelled all flights to both Italy and China.
According to National Bank analyst Cameron Doerksen, the epidemic will cost Air Canada $1.4 billion in adjusted earnings this year, which would mean a 40 per cent decline from 2019.
Washington banning public gatherings of over 250
Washington state has made the decision to ban public events in the Metro Seattle area that are bigger than 250 people. According to a report from Associated Press, Governor Jay Inslee, who has a press conference scheduled at 10:15 am this morning, is expected to outline the details of the public ban that will extend to events, concerts and sports. The ban could impact the Victoria Royals, who have a scheduled game down in Everett against the Silvertips on March 20.
As far as bigger events go elsewhere, some like South by Southwest country music festival have been cancelled, some like Coachella have been postponed, while others like the Olympics are opting to go ahead as scheduled.
World Health Organization declares COVID-19 a pandemic
WHO announced at a briefing in Geneva, Switzerland on Wednesday that coronavirus is now being labelled a pandemic. The disease, which was unknown to health officials just three months ago, has rapidly spread to more than 118,000 cases in 114 countries, with 4,291 people having died. The World Health Organization feel that the current mark of 118,000 cases will continue to rise in the following weeks, along with the death toll.