A man in his 80s with underlying health conditions has become the first person in Canada to die after testing positive for the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.
The man who died was a resident of the Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver. He died on Sunday and is believed to be the first COVID-19 death in Canada. His case was announced on Saturday.
It was previously announced on the weekend that two elderly residents of the facility had been diagnosed with the virus. The man’s symptoms were detected some time between Thursday and early Friday.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry made the announcement of the death on Monday. She also announced five new cases in B.C., bringing the provincial total to 32.
“Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family and loved ones and also of course to the staff that provided him care,” Henry said.
Henry said the man from the Lynn Valley Care Centre was in his 80s and had a number of underlying health conditions.
“Having said that, I understand he was an active member of the community there and will be sorely missed,” Henry said.
B.C.’s first community case (no links to travel or anyone diagnosed with COVID-19) was a health care worker at the Lynn Valley Care Centre.
The initial health care worker has also worked at two other facilities. Henry said her source of infection of COVID-19 was while working at the care home. Henry said an investigation is underway by Vancouver Coastal Health.
“There is investigation, obviously, ongoing in those facilities to determine exactly who had contact with whom and whether she worked when she was ill,” Henry said.
Henry and B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix described the situation at the care centre as an “outbreak.”
The other resident at the Lynn Valley Care Centre who has tested positive is in her 70s. She also has underlying health conditions and is in stable condition.
There is also another health care worker from the same facility, a woman in her 40s, who has tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
“It’s now become apparent that there were other people at that centre who were ill,” Henry said.
“So far two residents have tested positive. There are ongoing testing and ongoing monitoring of all the residents at the facility.”
A boy in his teens and a man in his 50s, who were close contacts of B.C.’s first community case, have also tested positive for COVID-19.
The other new cases announced Monday were a woman in her 50s who had travelled to Iran and a man in his 30s from Italy. Iran and Italy are locations struggling with large COVID-19 outbreaks.
Four patients have recovered in B.C., as indicated by the resolution of symptoms, followed by two successive negative test results 24 hours apart. Three patients with COVID-19 are hospitalized, one at the Vancouver General Hospital and the other two in the Fraser Health Authority. The rest are self-isolated at home.
Henry said it is important for people to stay home from work and school if they are feeling sick.
Henry said people should also be vigilant before visiting a long-term care home, should visit residents one by one and only see the person they need to see at the home. If someone is not feeling well, they should stay away from a long-term care home. However, if someone needs to visit a dying loved one, they should let the long-term care home know if they are not feeling well before visiting.
“This is obviously a very sad day for all of us, but especially for the family and loved ones of the man who passed away at the Lynn Valley care home,” said Dix.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his condolences go out to the family of the man who died in B.C.
“We are co-ordinating with provincial authorities, we are working together, we are ensuring Canada’s actions are consistent with what the World Health Organization and global experts are saying,” he said.
On Monday, Alberta announced it is facing three new potential cases of the novel coronavirus.
Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer, says that brings the total number of cases in the province to seven.
Six are presumptive in Alberta and one is confirmed. A man in his 40s from the Edmonton area was confirmed on Sunday as having contracted COVID-19.
He had recently travelled to the United States, but health officials believe the source of the infection is more likely to have been a travel companion who was on a previous voyage of a Grand Princess cruise ship now docked off California.
And Ontario health officials have announced three new cases of the novel coronavirus, bringing the total in the province to 34.
One patient, a man in his 50s, recently travelled to Germany, and the other two cases are a man in his 80s and a woman in her 70s who were recently in Iran.
All four of the patients have been released into self-isolation.
Canada now has at least 78 cases of the respiratory illness: 32 in British Columbia, 35 in Ontario, seven in Alberta and four in Quebec.
There are no confirmed cases on Vancouver Island as of Monday, March 9, 2020.
“There have been people all over British Columbia who have returned from cruises or returned from travel who have been isolation,” Henry said.
Presumptive cases are ones that have been detected in a lab, but not confirmed by Canada’s national microbiology lab in Winnipeg.
Canada’s chief public health officer recommends avoiding cruises
Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam had previously advised Canadians to think twice about cruises, but she toughened her warning due to what she described as a changing global situation.
“Cruise ships have passengers from around the world who may be arriving from areas with known or unknown spread of the novel coronavirus,” she told a news conference.
The update came as Canada prepares to repatriate 237 Canadians aboard a cruise ship that’s expected to dock in California later Monday.
Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne confirmed the government has chartered a plane to fly the Canadians aboard the Grand Princess to the air force base in Trenton, Ont.
There are 21 people diagnosed with COVID-19 aboard the Grand Princess, which is carrying more than 3,500 people from 54 countries. There’s no word on the nationalities of the patients.
Tam said passengers will be screened for symptoms before they board the plane, and those who exhibit them will stay in the U.S. for further assessment. Passengers without any symptoms will be quarantined for 14 days upon their arrival in Canada.
However, Champagne warned Canadian travellers there is no guarantee more government flights will come to the rescue in the future.
“People will be on notice obviously of the danger associated with getting into a cruise line at this stage, and therefore we will look at cases on a case-by-case basis,” he said.
He said the circumstances involved in the repatriation of citizens from the Grand Princess are “exceptional,” in part because the American government asked for Canada’s help and the cruise line will be paying the cost.
As of Monday, there were six cases of COVID-19 in Canada believed to be linked to the previous voyage of the Grand Princess cruise ship.
Travellers are also advised to avoid non-essential travel to northern Italy and China.
People are asked to avoid all travel to Hubei province in China and Iran. Wuhan, the centre of the COVID-19 outbreak, is located in Hubei province.
Food Delivery Preparing non-contact options in Canada
Food delivery companies operating in Canada are undertaking a handful of precautions amid an outbreak of a novel form of coronavirus.
Non-contact drop-offs are coming next week to the Chanmao Inc. food delivery service, which operates in the Greater Toronto Area, Waterloo, Hamilton, Halifax, Edmonton and Winnipeg.
Customers will be able to have their orders left at front desks, with building security or on a doorstep in an effort to stop the spread of the virus, which has infected at least 60 Canadians and more than one hundred thousand more globally.
Uber Eats says couriers that logged into the app to begin accepting orders in recent weeks, were met with a message reminding them to wash their hands frequently, disinfect their vehicles often and if they feel sick, to stay home.
The company also put restrictions on employee travel to China, northern Italy, Iran and South Korea.
At Foodora Inc. there is a committee to implement processes ensuring the health and safety of couriers and customers, including work-travel restrictions for coronavirus-affected regions and a work-from-home policy for those who travelled recently to areas with outbreaks.
Quebec opening first clinic to screen potential COVID-19 patients
Quebec Health Minister Danielle McCann says the province has designated a first clinic to screen potential COVID-19 patients.
She says the new clinic will open its doors in Montreal today, while two others will open in the Quebec City region and on Montreal’s South Shore in the coming week.
The province currently has two confirmed cases as well as two presumptive cases, which still need to be confirmed by the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg.
Quebec evaluating whether to allow world figure skating championships
Quebec Health Minister Danielle McCann says the government is evaluating whether to allow the world figure skating championships to go ahead next week in Montreal.
Her comments today come after the International Ice Hockey Federation on Saturday cancelled the women’s world hockey championship scheduled to take place in Nova Scotia from March 31 to April 10.
McCann said provincial public health and public security officials are involved in the analysis of the March 16-22 figure skating event, with input from the Public Health Agency of Canada.
She says cancelling the competition has not been ruled out, and a decision will be made as quickly as possible.
Premiers to identify supply gaps
The federal government is asking premiers to identify any critical gaps in supplies or capacity to deal with the novel coronavirus so that Ottawa can help as the number of Canadians with COVID-19 rapidly increases.
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland has written the provincial and territorial leaders asking them to inform the federal government of their state of readiness and any shortages by the time first ministers meet Friday in Ottawa.
Freeland says the objective is to ensure a “whole-of-country effort” to be “as prepared as we can be” for the challenges ahead.
In her letter, Freeland notes that the federal government is already leading a bulk procurement of personal protective equipment.
There are now more than 110,000 cases worldwide, with the largest group still in China. But massive outbreaks have developed outside the virus’s epicentre, including in South Korea, Iran and Italy.
With files from the Canadian Press