B.C. health officials say there have been no new confirmed cases of COVID-19 (the novel coronavirus) in the province since the total climbed to four last week.
Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the four confirmed patients in B.C. are doing well and showing signs of recovery.
The National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg formally confirmed the most recently identified two cases on Monday.
“Their condition is stable and all of them are in isolation recovering at home,” said Henry.
“The small number of close contacts for each of our cases have been identified and are being actively followed every day with Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) and they all remain well and asymptomatic.”
B.C.’s four cases include a man in his 40s who had travelled to Wuhan, China, and a Vancouver-area woman in her 50s and two family members who had come to visit her from Hubei province.
Henry said VCH has been in daily contact with the isolated patients and their close contacts and helping ensure the virus isn’t transmitted by implementing measures such as separate sleeping areas, masks, separate food and utensils and hand hygiene.
As of Friday, B.C. had tested 264 people for the virus, which was formally renamed COVID-19 by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday.
Henry said most of the 260 people whose tests had returned negative for COVID-19 had tested positive for other common seasonal respiratory ailments such as the flu.
“We are seeing quite an increase in the influenza virus, particularly among young people,” she said.
Henry said a second government-chartered flight repatriating Canadians from China’s Hubei province touched town at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Trenton early Tuesday, and all 188 people aboard appeared well.
She said the province was communicating with Ottawa to coordinate support for British Columbians among those quarantined at the base once they’d cleared the virus’ 14-day incubation period.
Henry also addressed concerns about rumours and misinformation about the virus.
She said an international team of WHO experts led by a Canadian doctor is now on the ground in China.
Canada has no reason to believe the Chinese government is not providing accurate information about the state of the outbreak, but the move could help increase confidence and reduce social media speculation about the issue, she said.
Henry said online rumours that the virus’ incubation period is longer than two weeks, which spread following a reported case of a person developing symptoms after 24 days, were also misplaced.
“It’s unclear about that particular individual, but all of the other data show that for the vast majority of people it’s actually under 10 days, and that 99 per cent are within 11.5 days, so I do think that 14 days is a rational approach,” Henry said.
Henry went on to express cautious optimism that the outbreak slowing down in its epicentre, China’s Hubei province.
She said that although the virus killed more than 100 people on Monday, that spike in fatalities is likely related to people who contracted the virus nearly a week ago.
The number of new infections appears to be levelling off, suggesting measures in China to restrict transmission are working, Henry said.
As of Tuesday, the virus has infected 43,170 people and left 1,018 dead, most of them in China.