British Columbia’s Minister of Health and the provincial health officer have issued a joint statement on Friday to reassure people of the low risk of coronavirus spreading in BC.
Adrian Dix and Dr. Bonnie Henry confirmed in a statement to media that as of today, the province continues to have only one confirmed case of novel coronavirus or 2019-nCoV.
The diagnosed man is a resident in the Vancouver Coastal Health region in his 40s and returned from a trip to Wuhan, China last week. He began exhibiting symptoms of coronavirus a day after he arrived home.
Both the BC Centre for Disease Control lab and the National Medical Laboratory in Winnipeg found that he tested positive for 2019-nCoV.
This was established on January 28th. There have been no new cases of coronavirus detected in the province since, after authorities tested 114 samples for the disease.
The Ministry of Health states that they will continue to update the public on the number of cases tested each Friday. This information will also be available on the BC CDC website.
“We want to reassure people that the risk of this virus spreading within British Columbia remains low at this time,” reads the statement.
“All necessary precautions are being taken to prevent the spread of infection. We have multiple systems in place to prepare for, detect and respond to prevent the spread of serious infectious diseases in the province.”
Further, the ministry advises the public that no special precautions are necessary to prevent the spread of coronavirus, other than usual measures to safeguard against common respiratory illnesses.
“Regular handwashing, coughing or sneezing into your elbow sleeve, disposing of tissues appropriately and avoiding contact with sick people are important ways to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses, generally,” they state.
Clearing the air
On Thursday, the BC CDC took to social media to curb the spread of misinformation about how the 2019-nCoV is spread.
According to the authority, the disease is not airborne — instead, it is carried in large droplets that are released when someone sneezes or coughs without cover.
The receptors for those droplets are deep in the lungs, meaning the coronavirus cannot be contracted through casual contact.
The virus cannot be absorbed through the skin, but droplets can make their way into the lungs if they touch the face or mouth.
But as long as people clean their hands before touching their face or mouth, the virus will not get into the lungs.
People should only wear masks if they have the disease already, as the masks contain those droplets.
If people without the illness wear the mask, it can actually increase chances of transmission, seeing as people wearing the mask are more likely to touch their face (to rearrange the mask, for instance).
The most effective way to prevent transmission is by washing your hands, the BC CDC says. People should also cover their mouth when coughing or sneezing, and avoid touching their face more than is necessary.
With files from Cormac O’Brien.