British Columbians advised to avoid international travel due to coronavirus

Mar 12 2020, 3:53 pm

BC health officials implemented new measures Thursday to stall the spread of COVID-19.

The province is advising citizens to avoid all non-essential international travel, including trips to the US. People who do travel will need to stay home from work or school for 14 days after returning from their trip.

“That means no quarts of milk in Bellingham,” Health Minister Adrian Dix told reporters Thursday. “No trips to Paris, or Berlin, or Boise.”

The province is also asking event organizers to cancel all gatherings for more than 250 people in the coming weeks.

British Columbia schools will remain open, unlike public schools in Ontario that will close for two weeks after March break. 

“We need now for industry, for workers … to think about the things we can do to reduce the impact on us,” Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said, encouraging flexible work from home policies.

“The risk hasn’t changed a lot here in BC, but the risk has increased all around us,” Henry said, explaining why the province is enacting these new measures.

At the same news conference, Dr. Henry also announced seven new COVID-19 cases Thursday, bringing the total number of cases the province has seen to 53.

There’s an outbreak at a second long-term care home in West Vancouver, the Revera Hollyburn House Retirement Residence, Dr. Henry said. A man in his 90s who lives there tested positive for COVID-19, as did two health care workers.

The two staff also worked at the Lynn Valley Care Centre, where BC’s first local outbreak of COVID-19 occurred.

There’s also been another case of community transmission, Dr. Henry said. A man in his 50s is sick with the virus, and officials can’t trace his case to travel or contact with another known COVID-19 case.

The final three new cases are all linked to travel. A couple in their 40s got sick after a Nile River cruise in Egypt, and a man contracted the virus while travelling in the UK.

With coronavirus on the rise, BC public health authorities are reminding individuals who attend events and large gatherings to monitor their health for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. And if you’re not feeling well, they recommend staying home at this time. Also, due to unexpected cancellations, please check the event you plan to attend is still taking place. Keep up with COVID-19 news here.