Vancouver health authorities confirm first presumptive case of coronavirus in BC

Jan 28 2020, 6:13 pm

The first presumptive case of coronavirus has been confirmed in BC.

“We are here to let you know that late yesterday, we had our first case confirmed of a person here in BC,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, Provincial Health Officer, in a joint statement with Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, this morning.

The man is in his 40s and regularly travels to China for work. He was in Wuhan last week on a work trip.

He is a resident of the Vancouver Coastal Health region, which comprises Vancouver, Richmond, North and West Vancouver, along the Sea-to-Sky Highway, Sunshine Coast, and BC’s Central Coast.

“On Sunday, January 26, he followed public health messaging, contacted a primary health-care provider to notify them that he had travelled to Wuhan City, was experiencing symptoms and would be coming for assessment and care,” said Henry.

“Following established protocols, the primary-care provider notified the Vancouver Coastal Health medical health officer and administered the diagnostic test,” said Henry. “Last night the test came back positive. Public health officials are in regular contact with the man and he is in isolation at his home.”

Henry said the man was “well aware of what was going on in China,” and upon his return home, he voluntarily self-isolated. “So he had not travelled outside his home until he sought medical attention, and he did that with all the appropriate precautions that we’re aware of.”

She adds there are “a small number of contacts, including family contacts.” VCH is following up on them and “is confident they have everybody that has any concern about being in contact with this individual.”

The man was not symptomatic on his flight. “There are no risks to people who are in contact with somebody with no symptoms,” she said.

A second test of the lab results will be done at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, she added. Cases are considered presumptive until confirmed at the Winnipeg lab. The secondary testing will be completed in several days.

Both Henry and Dix say the “risk of spreading this virus within British Columbia remains low at this time.”

“All necessary precautions are being taken to prevent the spread of infection. We have multiple systems in place to prepare for, detect and respond, in order to prevent the spread of serious infectious diseases in the province,” read the statement.

The BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) has developed a diagnostic test for the new coronavirus and is co-ordinating staff and supplies to ensure all potential cases can be detected “quickly and accurately.”

Risk remains “low to British Columbians”: BCCDC

On its website, the BCCDC says the risk to British Columbians “is considered low” but is being monitored closely.

As of January 27, 2020, there have been 2,888 globally confirmed cases (2,846 of these within regions of China). There have also been 81 deaths, which have all occurred within regions of China.



Cases of the virus were first reported in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. BCCDC says illnesses associated with the new coronavirus are “similar to several respiratory illnesses and include fever, dry cough, sore throat and headache.”

Coronavirus in Canada

As of Monday, Canada had one confirmed case of coronavirus and one presumptive case, both of which are in Toronto. The Government of Ontario confirmed that the wife of the province’s first case of the Wuhan novel coronavirus has tested positive for the virus.

The couple, both in their mid-50s, had recently travelled to Wuhan.

Three people are being investigated in the province for potential cases of the coronavirus, according to Quebec’s health and social services ministry.

Canadian outbreak updates can be found on the Government of Canada’s website.

The Government of Canada has also increased its travel risk advisory to parts of China.

According to Global Affairs, Canadians should also avoid all travel to Hubei, including the cities of Wuhan, Huanggang, and Ezhou, “due to the imposition of heavy travel restrictions in order to limit the spread of a novel coronavirus.”

The federal government said that on January 22, Chinese authorities asked the public to avoid all non-essential travel to and from the city of Wuhan, Hubei, “in the hopes of containing a novel coronavirus.”

François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Foreign Affairs, said the government is in contact with and providing assistance to Canadians currently on the ground.

Simran SinghSimran Singh

+ News