B.C.’s top doctor says there is now a seventh case of COVID-19 in the province.
The most recent case, a man in his 40s in the Fraser Health region, is linked to the sixth case of COVID-19 in the province, a woman in her 30s who visited Iran.
The man, a “close contact” of the sixth case, experienced an onset of symptoms before the sixth case was confirmed, Dr. Bonnie Henry said.
Officials have been working to identify anyone who had been in contact with the man prior to going into isolation last week. Fraser Health has connected with a number of close contacts over the weekend and they are also in isolation and are being monitored daily by health officials, Henry said.
Both the sixth and seventh cases are in stable condition at home, she said.
Henry says the first case of COVID-19 in B.C. has recovered and the second, third and fourth cases, which are linked to a household in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, are recovering.
“We’re expecting them to have testing this week to confirm that they have indeed recovered from the virus,” Henry said.
The fifth case, located in B.C.’s interior, is “doing well and is no longer symptomatic,” Henry said.
Health Minister Adrian Dix said the province’s ability to quickly detect and isolate the two most recent cases shows that the province’s low threshold for testing is working, but individuals who are feeling sick still need to take appropriate measures to prevent the transmission of all illnesses.
“It’s washing our hands, it’s coughing into our sleeves if necessary, it’s getting rid of Kleenexes, and most importantly if you’re sick, stay home from work and if you’re sick, stay home from school,” Dix said.
“We expect these emergency protocols to be in place for some time.”
Dix said the province has tested about 700 people for COVID-19 so far.
Henry said federal officials had determined B.C.’s testing regime was reliable, and that samples will no longer need to be sent to the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg for confirmation.
She said the province was also closely monitoring the spread of the virus in other countries that have seen outbreaks, such as Iran and South Korea.
She said while the risk remains low in Canada, public health officials are preparing for the possibility that the spread of the virus worsens.
“Though there is widespread transmission in some areas of the world, we are not in that position yet, but we have been preparing for that, we are preparing for all the possibilities we might see in the coming weeks,” Henry said.
“I am confident we still have a number of weeks where we are definitely able to contain it here.”
For the time being, there is no active screening at airports, but visitors from out of the country are being given detailed information about symptoms to watch for and what to do if they begin to feel ill, Henry said.
She said in cases where people do report symptoms, public health officials have a detailed procedure for tracing their recent contacts and speaking with and isolating anyone who may be at risk.
“We will see over the next few weeks how this evolves around the world,” Henry said.
“But we do have a very good opportunity of making sure we protect our communities and our health-care system here by taking these measures that we’re taking now and making sure that people are protected and safe.”