BC confirms 6 new cases of coronavirus, and 2 are in a long-term care home

Mar 7 2020, 10:23 am

British Columbia Health officials identified six new cases of COVID-19 Saturday morning, including two in residents of a long-term care facility on Vancouver’s North Shore.

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.

It’s not clear if the health care worker passed the coronavirus to the residents, or if all of them were exposed to someone else with the virus, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said.

“This is one of the scenarios that we have been most concerned about,” Henry told reporters.

“We now have two of the residents who have tested positive, so we are in what we call an outbreak at that North Vancouver care centre.”

This is worrisome because people who are older with underlying health conditions are more at risk of dying from COVID-19. According to the province’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, daibetes, hypertension, and cancer, the mortality increases to between 5 and 10%.

“I’m feeling for the families that are dealing with this right now,” Henry said, adding she knows how stressful the situation must be for both relatives and health care workers.

The Lynn Valley Care Centre, on Lynn Valley Drive north of Highway 1, is under infection outbreak protocol, meaning no visitors are allowed.

The other four new cases are linked to travel. They bring the province’s total caseload to 27.

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A man from the Fraser Health region in his 50s developed symptoms after coming back from Iran, and it’s believed he passed the virus to a second person in his home.

The final two new cases are in a couple in their 60s who were aboard the Grand Princess cruise that ended February 21. The boat is off the coast of California right now dealing with a coronavirus outbreak among its current set of passengers.

Henry cautioned people not to go on cruises during the ongoing global coronavirus outbreak.

“Cruise ships right now are really high risk,” she said. “There is no way to guarantee your safety. We recommend people forego that type of travel at this point.”

Health Minister Adrian Dix repeated advice to practice regular hand washing, and stay home if you’re sick. On Saturday, Dix and Henry also asked people to consider “virtual gatherings” instead of in-person ones, especially if elderly people are part of the group.