The B.C. Ministry of Health has reported seven new cases of novel coronavirus in the province, bringing the total number cases in B.C. to 53.
These new cases include an outbreak at another care centre, Hollyburn House care home in North Vancouver, where a man in his 90s and two health care workers have tested positive for COVID-19.
All of the remaining new cases in B.C. are among patients who reside in the Vancouver Coastal Health Region.
One of the patients returned to Vancouver after travelling to the UK, primarily London and Scotland. Two of the other positive cases were a couple in their 40s who returned to Canada after taking a tour and cruise on the Nile river in Egypt.
The final patient announced today is a man in his 50s for whom the source of transmission is unknown. All of the patients are recovering in isolation at home.
In good news, Dr. Henry announced that there are two former COVID-19 patients who have fully recovered, are asymptomatic, and had two negative tests come back.
This brings the total number of recovered coronavirus patients to six in B.C.
In light of the evolving situation with the global coronavirus pandemic, the health ministry is officially advising British Columbians against all non-essential travel outside of Canada, including to the United States.
Those who do choose to travel against this advice will be asked to self isolate from school or work for 14 days upon their return to Canada.
On Wednesday, US Presidents Donald Trump announced the suspension of all travel from Europe to the US for 30 days in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The B.C. Ministry of Health is now also directing all event organizations in the province to cancel any events that involve gatherings of 250 people or more.
Dr. Bonnie Henry is advising workplaces to start thinking about measures to increase distances between people at work, and to start exploring work from home options.
“We’ll be working with post secondary schools, with Ministry of Education, and others across government to ensure that we can handle these measures within those settings appropriately,” says Henry.
“We don’t believe it is appropriate at the moment to close schools. They are places where young people can be kept safe from a lot of things and learn about social distancing. Sometimes the impact of closing schools can cause a lot of societal disruption and economic impact so we want to do that in a measured way.”
Dr. Henry also emphasized that these measures are for now, not forever, and authorities will continue to reassess on a daily and weekly basis while monitoring the situation.
On Wednesday March 11th, the Ministry of Health announced Vancouver Island’s first case of COVID-19: a 63-year-old man residing in Victoria who recently returned from travelling to Egypt. He is recovering from the illness at home in isolation.
A large number of events announced cancellations on Thursday amid COVID-19 transmission concerns, including the 2020 JUNO awards. The NHL and NBA have also announced that they are temporarily suspending their seasons.
The City of Victoria has approved a motion to ask the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority and Transport Canada to temporarily suspend cruise ship landings at Ogden Point until the risk of COVID-19 subsides.
While schools and post secondary institutions continue to operate normally in B.C., University of Victoria students have created a petition asking authorities to shut down the school and switch to online classes due to fears of coronavirus transmission.
The BCCDC has set up up a 2019 novel coronavirus telephone information line at 1-833-784-4397 for those who have further questions about this disease.
Anyone concerned that they may have been exposed to, or are experiencing symptoms of the novel coronavirus, should contact their primary care provider, local public health office, or call 8-1-1.
Earlier this week, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic and called for countries to:
- scale up emergency response mechanisms,
- communicate the risks to the public and inform them on ways to protect themselves,
- test every possible COVID-19 case and their close contacts,
- prepare hospitals, and
- protect and train health workers.
As of the time of publication, the total number of COVID-19 patients worldwide has risen to 134,511.
Nearly 5,000 people have died from the illness and 68,927 have made a full recovery.