British Columbia has identified a fifth presumptive case of COVID-19.
B.C. Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says the patient is a woman in her 30s who lives in the Interior Health Region. She recently travelled in the Shanghai area of China.
“She was not in Hubei province and was not in an area where travel was restricted,” Henry said.
“She came home from Shanghai through YVR (the Vancouver International Airport) and then travelled by private vehicle to her home in the interior.”
Henry said the woman has self-isolated at home, as have her close contacts. She was tested on Feb. 11, and the lab returned a positive result on Thursday, Henry added.
That sample still needs to be confirmed by the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg.
“Her symptoms started, we think, around her time of arrival,” said Henry. “We’re still working out the details and looking at the flights and if we need to contact people on those flights.”
Henry said the risk of transmission was low as the woman wore a mask on the flight home. But she said health officials are still working to contact everyone who sat within three rows of the woman to discuss what to do if they show symptoms.
Officials are not saying what flight the woman was on or where exactly she lives in the Interior Health Region because they don’t want to unnecessarily alarm people, Henry said.
“People need to trust the system in order to engage with us, so we are very careful with the information we give out, and we want to make sure that people who potentially are at risk, who are close contacts, are connected with first before they hear about things potentially in the media,” she said.
Health Minister Adrian Dix said more than 500 people have now been tested for the virus, with five people testing positive.
“They’ve come forward to us, we’ve had a low threshold to be tested. And that means people are responding to our requests to self-monitor and to engage with the health-care system.”
Henry said Friday that the first person to test positive for COVID-19 last month, a man in his 50s who lives in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, is recovering and has returned a single negative test.
Officials consider a person fully recovered when they return two negative tests 24 hours apart.
The province has committed to providing weekly updates on Tuesdays in person, as well as data updates on the B.C. Centre for Disease Control website on Friday mornings.
As of Friday, mainland China has confirmed nearly 64,000 total cases, with a death toll of 1,380.