B.C.’s sixth case of COVID-19 was contracted by a woman who was visiting Iran, B.C.’s top doctor and health minister confirmed Thursday evening.
Dr. Bonnie Henry said the woman in her 30s visited the Middle East country in late January and returned to B.C. within the past week. She was diagnosed after taking herself to hospital with flu-like symptoms, she added, but was sent home.
“We were surprised as you can imagine,” Henry said about the case, which is the first one in the province without a connection to China.
“We expect there will be an international investigation.”
Henry said the woman’s case is relatively mild and a number of her close contacts have already been put in isolation.
The woman herself is in isolation at her home in the Fraser Health region and is being monitored by provincial health officials.
During the joint press conference with Health Minister Adrian Dix, Henry noted Iran is beginning to see cases of the novel coronavirus.
The country has reported five cases as of Thursday, two of whom have died.
“It’s unexpected. It’s what we call a sentinel event,” Henry said.
On Wednesday, Henry said the province’s first confirmed COVID-19 patient has now fully recovered.
Doctors believe the patient, a man in his 50s who had travelled to the Chinese city of Wuhan, has recovered following two negative tests for the virus taken 24 hours apart.
Three other patients are now asymptomatic. The province is monitoring the health of a Lower Mainland woman in her 50s and two relatives visiting from China’s Hubei province, who remain isolated in her home.
The province’s top doctors said the province’s fifth COVID-19 case, a woman in her 30s who had recently travelled to the Shanghai area, still has symptoms but is stable and doing well in isolation at her home in the B.C. Interior.
Giving the example of B.C.’s fifth case, who developed COVID-19 symptoms while still on an aircraft but was wearing a mask, Henry said everyone who was seated near her is being monitored and provided with information about what to do if they develop symptoms.
She said the province was also monitoring 20 people who were aboard the MS Westerdam and have since returned to British Columbia.
That cruise ship docked in Cambodia, and one of its passengers later tested positive for the virus.
Henry said all 20 were in isolation at home out of an abundance of caution.
With the 14-day quarantine period set to lift soon at Canadian Forces Base Trenton for many of the people repatriated from Wuhan and Hubei province, Henry also revealed that about one-third would be returning to B.C.
Canadians who were trapped aboard a second cruise ship, the Diamond Princess which is docked in Yokohama, Japan, are due to arrive by plane at CFB Trenton around 2 a.m. Eastern time.
At least 43 Canadians aboard the Diamond Princess have contracted the virus, and are receiving care in Japan.
Three other Canadians in Ontario have tested positive after travelling home from China, but one of those cases — the first one reported in Canada — has since been cleared.
Worldwide, more than 75,000 cases have been confirmed, with the virus claiming the lives of more than 2,000.
–with files from Simon Little