9th presumptive case of coronavirus confirmed in BC

Mar 3 2020, 11:41 am

BC health authorities have confirmed a ninth presumptive case of coronavirus in the province.

According to Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry, the latest case is a man in his 50s who “lives in the Fraser Health region.”

At a press conference on Tuesday morning, Henry said the man returned to Canada last week after visiting Iran, and “we became aware of this case late last night.”

Henry said the man is currently in self-isolation at home, and this case is “unrelated to any previously announced case.”

Now, “Fraser Health is actively investigating; close contacts have been identified and contacted by public health officials,” said Henry. “Those who may be at risk are in self-isolation for 14 days and being actively monitored for symptoms.”

Still, even with the new case, Henry said the overall risk of spread of COVID-19 within British Columbia “remains low at this time.”

However, “the most important measures people can take today are to proactively prevent the transmission of respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19,” she said. “We ask all British Columbians to stay home and away from others if you or your family are sick.”

Henry also recommended “cleaning your hands regularly, avoiding touching your face, coughing or sneezing into your elbow sleeve, and disposing of tissues appropriately. To further contain transmission, we also recommend suspending usual greetings such as handshakes, hugs, and kisses.”

For families, “similar to how you may need to care for someone with influenza, you want to ensure you have sufficient food, medications, and support in place to stay home for a number of days.”

Measures like these “are normal preparations when someone in your family is ill,” said Henry. “There is no requirement for British Columbians to stockpile supplies.”

For employers, “we recommend increasing cleaning and hand hygiene availability, in addition to thinking about how to manage absenteeism through steps such as remote working or virtual meetings,” Henry said.

As well, schools “should be increasing cleaning and hand hygiene, educating students on respiratory etiquette, in addition to putting mechanisms in place to support students who may be away for extended periods.”

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On Monday, Henry said BC will not be implementing any additional health screening measures at its land border with Washington State, where there have been a number of deaths due to the virus in recent days.

“We’re treating Washington State as we would the province of Ontario,” Henry said. “They have a small number of cases that are localized … and we have confidence in that system.”

This latest case in BC brings the total number of cases in Canada to 30.