B.C. health officials have announced the province’s eighth case of COVID-19.
Chief medical health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said the woman, who is in her 60s, travelled to the province from Tehran, Iran.
The woman is in the Vancouver Coastal Health region and is in isolation at home with a “relatively mild case,” Henry said.
“The investigation is ongoing, but we don’t expect to have very many contacts” with this latest case she said. “She’s doing the right thing and staying away from others and was assessed safely in our health system here.”
Henry said the woman has very few contacts, but they are also all in isolation and are being monitored by health officials.
B.C.’s announcement came at the same time that officials in Washington state announced the first fatal case of COVID-19 in the U.S.
Four other cases in Washington state, Oregon and California are of unknown origin, with no link to either travel or previously-reported cases.
Washington state later on Saturday announced two additional cases along with over 50 people being monitored for respiratory symptoms at a long-term care facility in the Seattle area, prompting Gov. Jay Inslee to declare a state of local emergency.
Henry and Dix both said they are monitoring the situation south of the border closely and are working with health officials there to prepare for possible spread.
“This is a time for people to come together and support each other,” Dix said.
“We are going to be supporting in every way possible and working with, in every way possible, our American colleagues both at the federal level and state levels as they address this, because their issue … is our issue.”
Henry noted the case is the third straight case in B.C. to be connected to Iran, after past cases were linked to travel to China where the virus was first discovered.
The two most recent cases in Ontario and Quebec’s sole confirmed case are also connected to Iran, which Dix said “demonstrates how the situation is evolving around the world.”
B.C. is home to seven other cases of COVID-19. All those cases are linked to travel in either China or Iran, or are connected to cases that had travelled to those countries.
Henry said the province’s first four cases have fully recovered, while the other three are in stable condition at home.
Contacts of those cases have finished their 14-day quarantine and have not developed symptoms, and have continued to test negative for the virus, she said.
Despite the new case and the evolving situation in the U.S., Dix and Henry said B.C. is not in a pandemic stage — though they are preparing for that development.
“A pandemic would mean widespread transmission of this in communities around the world, including here in Canada,” Henry said. “But we are very much focusing on containment and delaying this as much as possible.
“We know that this is a serious infection, particularly for older people, so that is our focus right now.”
Henry said the province is working to ensure supply and equipment levels are adequate in the event of a pandemic, including coordinating with federal officials to support agencies across the country.