The first person confirmed to have COVID-19 in British Columbia has fully recovered, according to health officials.
The case was confirmed on Jan. 29 in the Vancouver area. The man, who was in his 40s and developed symptoms after a business trip to Wuhan, was considered fully recovered after two negative tests 24 hours apart.
“He is considered cured and no longer required to be in isolation and I think that’s very good news. Good news for us and good news for him,” Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, said.
As of Feb. 19, five cases of the novel coronavirus have been confirmed in B.C. Henry said the second, third and fourth cases are now asymptomatic.
“We fully expect that their testing will come back negative in the next few days as well,” Henry said. Those cases were also in the Vancouver area.
The woman in her 30s in the B.C. Interior, who was confirmed as the fifth case in B.C., still has symptoms but is in stable condition.. The woman had flown from Shanghai to Vancouver. Henry said she remains in isolation at home.
Henry provided an update on the cases during a news conference on Wednesday. The province has provided bi-weekly updated of the novel coronavirus.
B.C.'s provincial health officer is providing an update on the novel coronavirus.
Posted by CBC Vancouver on Wednesday, February 19, 2020
Over 500 people have been tested for COVID-19 in B.C. No new cases have been reported as of Feb. 19.
“Many people have tested positive for influenza,” Henry said.
“That is not surprising to us. This is our influenza season both here and in China. People who have travelled who develop a fever and symptoms are much more likely to have influenza.”
Henry said all the cases in Canada have been mild so people have been isolated and recovering at home. Henry said in B.C., health officials have been monitoring family members and others who are in the homes where there is a confirmed COVID-19 case. She also added that the person with COVID-19 stays separate from the rest of the residence.
“We still have very few cases here in B.C. and in Canada,” Henry said. “We’re still monitoring this very carefully and the risk of transmission is very low.”
Henry said whenever there is a case, health officials will follow up with close contacts and go over where the person with COVID-19 visited, such as visiting neighbours.
“For example, in case five, we did know that she had some symptoms on the flight on her way here and we were able to track down those who sat around her on the flight manifest in partnership with our federal colleagues,” Henry said. She added that all those passengers have been contacted and the woman was wearing a mask on the flight.
Those individuals are still being monitored.
“So far none of the close contacts have had any symptoms of the disease,” Henry said.
There are eight cases of the novel coronavirus in the province. Henry also said Wednesday that approximately one-third of the people quarantined in Trenton, Ont. intend to return to B.C. Canadian Forces Base Trenton is housing Canadians airlifted from Wuhan, China, where the virus was first detected.
Health officials have also been monitoring the Canadians on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama, Japan. About 255 Canadians have been waiting to be flown home for more quarantine. At last count, 43 Canadians on the ship were diagnosed with the novel coronavirus.
Henry said about 20 people who were on Holland America’s MS Westerdam flew back to B.C. and were identified at the border. Public health officials are following up with them and they are in self-isolation at home.
After being stuck at sea for days, the cruise was allowed to dock in Cambodia last week. The cruise operator had said no cases of the virus had been found on board. However, a passenger later tested positive for COVID-19 during a stopover in Malaysia.
When a government-chartered plane can carry Canadians home from a coronavirus-stricken cruise ship in Japan is yet to be confirmed, says Global Affairs.
The novel coronavirus has now killed more than 2,000 people, all but six in Mainland China. It has infected more than 75,000 people with over 1,000 cases outside mainland China.
“We are still in that critical period where we don’t know yet whether all those measures taken in China, in particular, are going to be able to contain this virus or whether we are going to start seeing more widespread transmission in communities around the world and potentially here in B.C.,” Henry said.
“We have another several weeks before we will have a better understanding of how this is going evolve, particularly evolve in this season, and whether we’ll need to pay attention to this virus for many years to come.”
With files from the Canadian Press