Woman who travelled from Iran is B.C.'s 8th case of COVID-19
Published Saturday, February 29, 2020 11:45AM PST Last Updated Saturday, February 29, 2020 6:55PM PST
VANCOUVER -- The B.C. government has confirmed a new positive case of the new coronavirus, or COVID-19, in the Vancouver Coastal Health region.
The announcement Saturday by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Minister of Health Adrian Dix comes on the same day that officials in Washington state announced that the first death from COVID-19 in the United States had happened in their jurisdiction.
The new B.C. case brings the total reported in the province to eight, while three new cases in the Greater Toronto Area announced by Ontario health officials Saturday brought the total in that province to 11. One case reported in Quebec this week brings the Canadian total to 20.
Henry said B.C.'s eighth case is a woman in her 60s from Tehran, Iran, who travelled to B.C. to visit family and developed symptoms a few days after arriving.
Henry says the woman has a “relatively mild case” of the virus and she is in self-isolation at home, along with a “small number” of close contacts.
She says the public health investigation is ongoing, but the woman was aware of the virus spreading in Iran and called ahead to notify health officials before travelling to a clinic while wearing a mask.
Both Henry and Dix described the COVID-19 outbreak as "rapidly evolving," but said British Columbia is still in the "containment phase."
They encouraged the public to be vigilant about preventing the spread of the disease. Washing hands, covering your face when you cough, avoiding touching your face and eyes and staying home when sick are all important steps to take, Henry said.
"Even if you haven't travelled, if you're sick, please stay away from others," she said. "Keep it to yourself. Do all those things that we need to do at this time of the year to prevent transmission of infections."
Henry added that the first four people who tested positive for the virus in B.C. have recovered and are doing well, while the other three people who tested positive are in stable condition and remain in isolation at home.
She says many of those people's close contacts have finished their two-week quarantine period and there have been no new cases from within that group.
Dix noted that more than a thousand people in B.C. have been tested for the virus, which he said is more than twice as many tests as have been done in the entirety of the United States.
"This is not to criticize anybody," the health minister said. "We are working with our American friends because we're deeply connected to them, and their success is our success."
Henry said it's "a concern" that the United States has not had a more robust testing regimen in place for the virus, but she added that the country has a strong public health system and is equipped to handle the situation.
"They don't have the testing available in the states yet, it all has to be done in Atlanta," Henry said. "As the testing rolls out to the states, we expect that we'll see more cases (there)."
CTV News Vancouver contacted the Canada Border Services Agency to ask if there would be any change to screening at the U.S. border as a result of the spread of COVID-19 in Washington state and elsewhere.
The CBSA said the Public Health Agency of Canada is responsible for advising it of any required changes to border screening to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.
The CBSA said it currently has measures in place at all international airports in Canada to identify and screen all travellers arriving from or who may have visited the Chinese province of Hubei, where COVID-19 originated.
The agency did not say there are any extra measures in place at land borders, and referred questions to the PHAC.
With files from The Canadian Press and CTV News Vancouver's Emad Agahi