B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says there are no new COVID-19 cases in the province as of Monday.
The province is also monitoring the deaths of six people from novel coronavirus in Washington state.
Henry made the announcement during an update with Health Minister Adrian Dix at the B.C. legislature on Monday. Health Minister Adrian Dix said Premier John Horgan and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee spoke Monday by telephone about the coronavirus, each pledging support for the neighbouring jurisdictions.
The total number of cases in Canada is at 27: eight in B.C., 18 in Ontario, one in Quebec. All the cases in B.C. have not required hospitalization. Four patients have recovered and four remain in self-isolation at home recovering.
Henry said Monday said the province remains in the “containment phase” with the focus on quickly identifying people with COVID-19. She also repeated advice to stay home if you’re sick, especially if you’ve been out of the country.
Henry said starting Tuesday, people coming from Iran will now be assessed at the border, the same as people who have been to Hubei province in China.
If someone comes back from Hubei province in China or Iran, they will go into a secondary screening at the border. Wuhan, the Chinese city at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak, is located in Hubei province.
Anyone who has been in Iran or Hubei province, and is asymptomatic, is asked to self-quarantine for 14 days and connect with public health. Anyone who has symptoms will be placed in quarantine.
On Monday, four more deaths were reported in Washington state. The total number of fatalities in the United States is currently at six. .
Researchers from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the University of Washington said this weekend that the virus may have been circulating for weeks undetected in Washington state.
Henry said more cases will be reported as Washington state does more tests. Snohomish County and Redmond, Wash. have issued emergency proclamations due to coronavirus. Henry said there is no evidence of widespread transmission of the virus.
“There is not widespread community transmission in Washington state and certainly there is not here in B.C., and we’re confident of that,” Henry said Monday at a news conference.
“My colleagues in Washington state are working very hard to try and track down everybody who’s been in contact with people who’ve been affected in the United States.”
Henry said the clusters in Washington state are localized.
“There’s small outbreaks in the community that are being aggressively investigated, managed and contacts are being separated.”
But Henry said people can contact B.C.’s Health Link at 811 if they have travelled to King County or Snohomish County, have symptoms and are concerned. Washington state is not considered a highly affected area.
Also on Monday, Ontario reported three new cases of the novel coronavirus, bringing the total in the province to 18, though officials say the virus is not spreading locally.
A spate of new cases in Ontario has been reported over the past few days, all of them people who had recently travelled to Iran or Egypt, or family members of those who had visited the countries. The latest three cases included two women in their 60s and 70s who returned from Egypt on Feb. 20, and a man in his 60s who returned from Iran on Feb. 23.
Several countries and territories have since been added to a list of areas of concern, including Japan, Hong Kong, Italy, Iran, Singapore and South Korea.
Egypt is not on that list, and Ontario in fact now has more Egypt-linked cases of COVID-19 than that country itself has publicly reported.
Iran has confirmed 1,501 cases of the virus and 66 deaths, but many believe the true number is larger as the country’s caseload surged more than 250 per cent in just 24 hours.
In China, nearly 80,000 people have been diagnosed and more than 2,800 have died.
Health officials say the best ways to prevent the spread of any virus, COVID-19 included, include frequent hand-washing and staying home from school or work while sick.
Almost nine times more cases were reported outside China than inside it over the past 24 hours, according to the head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Henry said people can make sure they would be able to take care of themselves and their loved ones for a few days, similar to a natural disaster like an earthquake.
“But we don’t expect our systems to be disrupted as we would as during a natural disaster for example,” Henry said.
Henry advises Canadians to postpone any travel if they have flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough and muscle aches.
With files from The Canadian Press and The Associated Press
More to come