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Health officials won’t confirm how B.C. dentist who attended conference with COVID-19 outbreak died

Health officials not confirming B.C. dentist died of COVID-19
WATCH: B.C. health officials won't confirm whether or not a Metro Vancouver dentist died of COVID-19 after attending a huge convention in early March. Rumina Daya reports.

B.C.’s top health officials won’t confirm whether a North Vancouver dentist who attended a dental conference earlier this month died of the novel coronavirus.

The Pacific Dental Conference, March 5-7, saw an outbreak of COVID-19 — prompting health officials to ask attendees of the event to self-isolate.

Dr. Denis Vincent, a healthy man in his 60s who attended the conference, died over the weekend of suspected coronavirus complications, sources tell Global News.

READ MORE: B.C. dentist dies after attending dental conference with COVID-19 outbreak

People who knew Vincent tell Global News he died alone at home.

“He was as fit as a fiddle,” friend Stacey Nixon said.

“He was talking about having a great time with his sons skiing on some very difficult slopes in Whistler. He passed away on Sunday — so two weeks.”

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On Tuesday, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the death was being investigated by the B.C. Coroners Service, but that she couldn’t rule out the possibility the dentist died of COVID-19.

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“It is tragic that he passed away and I understand that the coroner is investigating, and we do not have any more information at the moment about his death,” she said.

READ MORE: Non-essential dental services paused after COVID-19 cases linked to Vancouver dental conference

“We don’t respond to rumours, and we won’t be giving out details on individuals and their individual circumstances.”

The Pacific Dental Conference is one of the largest dental conferences in North America, and had more than 15,000 attendees.

Dentists who attended the event continued to see patients.

It wasn’t until March 12, nearly a week later, that Vancouver Coastal Health told attendees to monitor themselves for symptoms after it became clear there had been an exposure at the conference.

On March 16, the order went out for attendees to self-isolate.

“And as soon as we realized there were additional people associated with the conference who were coming down with the disease, we advised everybody at the conference to self-isolate, not to just monitor themselves for symptoms,” said Henry.

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Henry said that 32 people connected with the conference have since been diagnosed with COVID-19, and that public health officials had investigated each case and their close contacts.

She said that process involved anyone who was a patient who saw an affected dentist between the conference and the outbreak being recognized.

“If you have not been notified by public health, then there’s no need to be concerned,” said Henry.

“The people that we know who had symptoms have all been addressed so far and we’re now past the incubation period for that conference, so people can be reassured.”

— With files from Rumina Daya