After BC health authorities confirmed a ninth presumptive case of coronavirus in the province on Tuesday morning, Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry said on Tuesday afternoon that three new cases of coronavirus in the province have now been confirmed, as well.
The first case, she said, is a man in his 50s who lives in the Vancouver Coastal Health Region ( which encompasses Vancouver, Richmond, Sea to Sky Country, and the Sunshine Coast), and recently returned from Iran.
The second case is an “adult woman” also in the Vancouver Coastal Health Region, and who also recently returned from Iran.
The third case is a woman in her 30s, in the Vancouver Coastal Health region as well, who had “household contact” with the individual who was the province’s eighth case – a woman in her 60s visiting BC from Tehran, Iran.
“Vancouver Coastal Health continues to actively investigate these new cases,” said Henry. “Close contacts are being identified and contacted by public health officials.”
Those who may be at risk, she added, “are requested to self-isolate for 14 days and are being actively monitored for symptoms.”
Tuesday’s three new cases bring the total number of cases in BC to 12.
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The announcement on Tuesday afternoon comes after Henry said on Tuesday morning that another case in the province was just identified on Monday night.
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.”
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.”
Starting today, Henry said, “Canada Border Services Agency officers are taking contact information from all travellers arriving from Iran, requiring them to self-isolate for 14 days and to contact public health officials.”
She added this process is already in place for people arriving from Hubei, China.
“When a traveller shows signs of a potential infectious disease upon arrival in Canada, border services officers contact quarantine officers, who are always available to provide health screening,” said Henry. “We are asking all other travellers who are returning to or visiting BC from outside Canada to monitor themselves and their children closely for symptoms and if any arise, to limit their contact with others and call 811.
This, she said, “is an important way to reduce the possibility of transmission of illness to others.”