Health officials confirm Canada's first death from coronavirus

Mar 9 2020, 11:12 am

After health officials in BC identified six new cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) over the weekend, including two residents of a long-term care facility on Vancouver’s North Shore, BC Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry said on Monday morning that one of those residents has now passed away as a result of the virus.

“We are deeply saddened to announce that a resident of the Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver, a man in his 80s who was previously confirmed positive with COVID-19 (case 27), passed away,” said Henry. “We offer our heartfelt condolences to his loved ones, and the staff who provided him care, during this difficult time.”

The other resident – a woman in her 70s – is still classified as being in stable condition.

Henry also announced “five new cases of COVID-19, for a total of 32 cases in British Columbia.”

The individuals are in the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health regions and were confirmed positive, based on BC Centre for Disease Control testing.

Henry said two of the new cases (case 28, 29) “are close contacts of case 21, who is a health-care worker at the Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver. Case 28 is a man in his teens and case 29 is a man in his 50s. Case 30 is a woman in her 40s and is also a health-care worker at the Lynn Valley Care Centre.”

All these cases, she added, live in the Fraser Health region.

“Case 31 is a woman is her 50s who recently returned from travel in Iran. Case 32 is a man in his 30s who recently returned from travel to Italy,” continued Henry. Both of these cases live in the Vancouver Coastal Health region.

Three COVID-19 patients are receiving care in hospital.

“All other individuals are stable and in isolation at home with support and monitoring from public health teams,” said Henry. “So far, four of B.C.’s 32 individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 have fully recovered.”

The news follows Henry’s announcement on Saturday, that a health care worker at the Lynn Valley Care Centre also tested positive as BC’s 21st case of COVID-19. She was identified as the province’s first case of community transmission earlier this week, meaning her illness was not tied to travel or direct contact with someone else known to have COVID-19.

“Public health teams continue to investigate the source of the outbreak at the care centre,” said Henry.

According to BC’s pandemic response plan, COVID-19 has about a 1% mortality rate in generally health people. But for people with underlying heart conditions, respiratory issues, diabetes, hypertension, and cancer, the mortality increases to between 5 and 10%.

Henry also announced on Monday that five new cases have now been identified in the province, bringing the total number of cases in the province to 32.

Over the weekend, a secondary school in Surrey advised its staff, students, and faculty that one of the recent confirmed cases of coronavirus is a member of its community.

In a letter, Sullivan Heights Secondary says the person identified “was asymptomatic during their time at the school; therefore, the risk to the school population is minimal.”

There is “no evidence that novel coronavirus is transmitted via asymptomatic individuals and the risk is low for the staff and students at Sullivan Heights.”

The letter comes at the same time that it was confirmed that a person diagnosed with coronavirus (COVID-19) was in the gym of Serpentine Heights Elementary school in Surrey over the weekend, as part of a community event.

Monday’s announcement comes on the heels of an advisory from Canada’s top doctor, who has advised Canadians to avoid all travel on cruise ships to protect themselves from the coronavirus outbreak across the globe.

Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, asked all Canadians to reconsider any cruise ship travel, in a press conference on Monday.

“I’ve asked Canadians twice to consider going on cruise ships, the public health agency of Canada is recommending that Canadians avoid all cruise ship travel due to COVID-19,” Tam said.

“Cruise ships have passengers from around the world who may be arriving from areas with known or unknown spread of the novel coronavirus. The virus can spread quickly on board cruise ships due to the close contact between passengers,” she said.

Tam also noted that older populations, as well as those with a weakened immune system or underlying medical conditions are at a higher risk of developing diseases.

People are also being reminded of preventative steps they can take themselves, which include:

• Regular Hand washing for at least 20 seconds using soap and water
• Using alcohol-based hand rubs to clean hands if they are not visibly soiled
• Avoiding touching your face/eyes/mouth with unwashed hands
• Covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough with a disposable tissue or the crease of your elbow.

More to come…