B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has announced seven new cases of the novel coronavirus, including Vancouver Island’s first case.
The first Vancouver Island COVID-19 case is a man in his 60s who recently travelled to Egypt. He is self-isolated at home. The case is a presumptive positive on and will be confirmed by a second test. Health officials are investigating his close contacts.
Henry did not say where the man lives in the Island Health region, saying health officials’ practice is to identify which health authority the patient resides in.
“Our practice is to provide the health authority that the person resides in,” Henry said during a press conference with Health Minister Adrian Dix on March 11.
The man was in the same travel group as the traveller from Egypt reported on Tuesday as testing positive for COVID-19.
Two other new cases are also related to Egypt: a man in his 70s related to the traveller from Egypt reported on Tuesday as testing positive for COVID-19 and a man from Egypt who is visiting family in the Fraser Health region.
On Tuesday, Glenlyon-Norfolk School in Victoria closed both its campuses after a community member was tested for COVID-19. Henry said Vancouver Island’s first COVID-19 case is not believed to be linked to the school.
There are also two new cases related to community spread. The two cases, which are in the Fraser Health region, were identified through surveillance screening of people being tested for seasonal influenza. They are a man and woman, both in their 60s. The woman is currently inhospital.
And two more careworkers at the Lynn Valley Care Centre are also new COVID-19 cases: a man in his 20s who lives in the Vancouver Coastal Health region and a woman in her 50s who is in the Fraser Health region.
The long-term care home is still dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak.
A man in his 80s with underlying health conditions who lived at the home died on Sunday. He was Canada’s first confirmed death from COVID-19. B.c. first case of community transmission was a health care worker from the Lynn Valley Care Centre. She was hospitalized but has since been discharged.
There are now 46 COVID-19 cases in the province. There are 22 in the Vancouver Coastal health region, 22 in the Fraser Health region, one in the Interior Health region and one in the Island Health region.
Four of the patients in the Vancouver Coastal health region have recovered. One is still hospitalized.
As of March 11, there are 116 cases in Canada:
- 46 in B.C., including one death
- 42 confirmed in Ontario,
- 19 confirmed in Alberta
- 7 confirmed in Quebec
- 1 presumptive in New Brunswick
- 1 confirmed among Canadians quarantined at CFB Trenton
The World Health Organization has declared the novel coronavirus a pandemic.
“It’s not inevitable that everybody is going to be infected by this,” Henry said.
“It’s not inevitable that our systems are going to be overwhelmed. We do not have to be in that position.”
Henry said province the will put more focus on enhancing prevention of the novel coronavirus at long-term care facilities to protect vulnerable elderly people and staff.
Henry says more screening of employees and visitors will be done at the facilities, which will be off limits to groups of visitors.
She also, once again, reminded people to practice social distancing when they are feeling unwell. She said people who also stay away from long-term care homes if they are feeling unwell. If someone needs to visit, Henry said they should only visit their family member and no one else.
“Right now we are asking people to take these social distancing measures to protect our families.”
“There have been no schools that have closed based on public health advice,” Henry said, adding that if public health has concerns about a school, they will examine whether they need to close the school.
The latest on the novel coronavirus in Canada
B.C. Green Party cancelling all in-person public events
B.C.’s Green party is cancelling all in-person public events to reduce the risk of community transmission of COVID-19.
The party’s executive director, Andrew Brown, says all staff, volunteers and leadership campaigns have been told to cancel public events and to held them online when possible.
The party is in the process of electing a new leader with the results of the contest being announced at a party convention in Nanaimo on June 27.
BC Council of Forest Industries cancels Prince George convention
The BC Council of Forest Industries is cancelling its 2020 convention in Prince George because of COVID-19.
President Susan Yurkovich says the World Health Organization declaring COVID-19 a global pandemic made cancelling the convention a “prudent” decision to avoid putting the health and safety of delegates, speakers, sponsors, exhibitors and staff at “unnecessary risk.”
The organization says the convention, scheduled from April 1 to 3, is the largest gathering of the forest sector in Western Canada and attracts CEOs and executives from across continental North America and overseas companies.
Cowichan Valley Regional District encourages social distancing
On Wednesday, Aaron Stone, chair of the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) said the district is encouraging social distancing, which includes:
- If you are feeling unwell, stay home and avoid public spaces
- Avoid physical contact by not handshaking or hugging
- Use proper respiratory etiquette and cover your mouth if you cough or sneeze
- Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly
Stone said the CVRD will be working closely with its partners, member municipalities, First Nations and Island Health in the coming days. Stone said the district will take direction from Island Health on best practices responding to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
“We will be providing updates to the public as required to keep you informed of our response and any known or anticipated impacts to service delivery,” Stone said in a statement.
It is important to know that the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) takes this matter seriously. We are doing our best to support public health, while also ensuring that we continue to
provide local and regional service delivery. Today the World Health Organization declared coronavirus a global pandemic. While there are confirmed cases of COVID-19 in British Columbia, at this time the risk to British Columbians remains low.”
The Washington State Health Department reports 29 people have died out of the 366 overall cases of COVID-19 in the state.
Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee has banned crowds of more than 250 people in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties. Seattle Public Schools has announced it will close for two weeks beginning March 12.
Sporting events cancelled
Quebec officials on Wednesday announced the cancellation of the world figure skating championships. The event was scheduled to run March 18-22 at the Bell Centre in Montreal.
The decision was similar to the one made by the International Ice Hockey Federation in cancelling the world women’s hockey championship on Saturday. That event, which was scheduled to start later this month in Nova Scotia, was called off after the province recommended it not be held.
As of Wednesday, the major professional teams in Canada had not followed some of their American counterparts in cancelling any games or banning fans from attending events. The NBA’s Golden State Warriors will play a home game in San Francisco on Thursday without fans and Major League Baseball’s Seattle Mariners announced Wednesday they will not play home games in March.
The other big American development Wednesday was the NCAA announcing Division I basketball tournament games will be played without fans in arenas.
Federal government spending $1 billion in COVID-19 fight
The federal government is spending $1 billion to help provinces respond to the novel coronavirus.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is announcing the aid in Ottawa this morning.
He says Canada has been fortunate so far but the country needs to be prepared for all scenarios.
The illness has sickened more than 100,000 people around the world and led to mass quarantines and restrictions on public gatherings.
With files from The Canadian Press
More to come