B.C.’s top doctor and minister of health said Friday that 114 people in the province have been tested for novel coronavirus, but that so far just one case has been confirmed.
Chief medical health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix also addressed what the declaration Thursday of an international public health emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO) means for B.C.
Henry said the declaration was not a surprise, and will help officials better coordinate resources from countries around the world to prevent the spread of the virus.
However, she said it would not change much in B.C.’s response, and that the province wasn’t looking at quarantining anyone travelling from or evacuated from Wuhan.
“I believe that quarantining is a very extreme measure, and it is not in my opinion warranted,” said Henry.
“We do of course want to make sure that we are monitoring people’s health very carefully, particularly people that have been in those areas.”
Henry said that health officials had a “very low threshold” for testing anyone with concerning travel or contact history, and that she was confident they were being overcautious.
Henry also committed to providing regular coronavirus updates every Tuesday, and that the BC Centre for Disease Control (BC CDC) would report new test numbers on its website every Friday.
The only confirmed case in British Columbia remains a man in his 40s who had recently travelled to the city of Wuhan, where the outbreak originated.
Henry said the man, who lives in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, isolated himself and contacted health authorities when he began to show symptoms. He remains in isolation at home.
“He is doing well, his condition is stable,” said Henry.
“He still has some symptoms, but he’s being closely monitored by the health services on a daily basis multiple times a day, and we expect that he will recover.”
Health officials have stressed that the risk remains low to Canadians.
BC CDC addressed Thursday what it called “misconceptions” about the transmission of the new coronavirus, amid growing public anxiety.
The agency is reminding people that the virus is not airborne but rather is spread by droplets, such as in coughs or sneezes.
It said to contract the virus, a person must generally be in close proximity to someone who is infected and must get the droplets deep into their lungs.
It said the best way to protect yourself from the novel coronavirus remains to wash your hands frequently and not to touch your face.
The virus, which has killed 213 people so far, had spread to 23 countries as of Friday, though the vast majority of the nearly 10,000 confirmed cases remain concentrated in China.
Air Canada has suspended all flights to China until the end of February due to the outbreak.
The federal government is currently working on a plan to airlift nearly 200 Canadians trapped in the Wuhan area who have asked to leave.View link »