British Columbia has announced a second “presumptive confirmed” case of the novel coronavirus.
The case will still need to be confirmed by a second test at the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg, but health officials say they expect it to return positive.
Dr. Bonnie Henry, the province’s chief medical health officer, made the announcement Tuesday, and said the patient was a woman who had contact with family visiting from Wuhan, China.
Henry said the woman, a resident of the Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) region in her 50s, and her family remain at her home, and VCH is following up with the entire group.
“The test came back positive yesterday, and Vancouver Coastal is doing the detailed investigations today,” said Henry.
“We’ll be testing, we’ll also be making sure that they trace back any movements that these people have had, and make sure we are in contact with anybody that may have had close contact with any of them.”
Henry said the woman showed symptoms several days ago and was tested at hospital, but was returned to isolation at home where she remains in stable condition.
She described the family as a “small group” though would not specify how many they were. Henry said VCH was still investigating whether any of the other family members are showing symptoms.
“The initial understanding that we have is that these people were well aware of what was going on, they left Wuhan before the travel restrictions were in place but they were also very conscious of the outbreak and were minimizing their contact with people outside the home,” Henry said.
Henry also provided an update on plans to evacuate several hundred Canadians from China on Thursday, Feb. 6.
The flight will refuel at the Vancouver International Airport, before heading to a a Canadian Forces base in Trenton, Ontario where evacuees will be quarantined for two weeks.
“They will have Canadian Forces medical personnel on the flight and they have extensive plans for isolating people on the flight so that we’re not in contact with each other, so you’re not unintentionally exposing somebody if somebody becomes ill,” said Henry.
“And they do have the potential to have a separate isolation area on the plane should somebody develop symptoms while they’re in the flight.”
Henry said B.C. health officials had made preparations in case anyone suffering a medical emergency needed to be evacuated from the plane when it lands in Vancouver.
Any such patient would be processed through British Columbia’s health care system, she said.
“We have all the protocols in place to ensure that that is done in a way that protects people from this coronavirus and other infections as well,” Henry said.
Before Tuesday, the province had confirmed a single case of the virus in B.C., a man in his 40s who lives in the Vancouver Coastal Health Region and who had travelled to Wuhan.
Last week Henry said the man remained in isolation at his home and was “doing well.”
As of last Thursday, the province had conducted 114 tests for the virus.
The BC Centre For Diesease Control (BC CDC) says the risk of contracting the novel coronavirus in British Columbia remains low.
It says the virus is not airborne, and that the best way to protect yourself remains to wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your face or eyes.
Worldwide there have been 20,704 confirmed cases of the virus, the vast majority of them in China. The novel coronavirus has killed 427 people.