(Vancouver General Hospital/vch.ca)

The Ministry of Health announced on Wednesday that a woman in her 80s has contracted a serious case of novel coronavirus.

According to provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, the woman resides in the Vancouver Coastal Health region and recently returned from travelling to India and Hong Kong.

“She’s had quite a severe illness and is currently in critical condition in isolation in ICU at Vancouver General Hospital,” said Dr. Henry.

“The hospital has been preparing for this and has taken all precautions to ensure that everyone in the hospital is safe and protected, and providing her with care that she needs.”

Dr. Henry says the individual was on a group trip to India and public health authorities are following up with the other people in the group to see if they have displayed any symptoms of COVID-19.

However she says the timing of her illness appears to suggest that she contracted coronavirus in Hong Kong, but this has not been confirmed.

The case is presumptive positive based on testing at Vancouver General and will soon be confirmed by the BCCDC.

Background

On Tuesday, March 3rd the Ministry of Health announced a total of four new confirmed cases of novel coronavirus, all among individuals who returned to Canada after travelling in Iran.

Three of the four people are in Vancouver Coastal Health region while the fourth resides in Fraser Valley Health region.

Thus far, four of the 13 individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. have recovered, while the remaining are in self isolation and being monitored by public health officials.

See also: BC CDC launches $150,000 genomics study to analyze coronavirus characteristics and monitor spread

Public health authorities are reiterating the fact that the risk of spread of COVID-19 remains low in B.C. at this time. Nevertheless officials are preparing for all contingencies, including the possibility of a pandemic.

Starting March 3rd, Canada Border Services Agency officers have been taking contact information from all travellers arriving from Iran, requiring them to self-isolate for 14 days and to contact public health officials.

This process was already in place for people arriving from Hubei, China.

As of March 4th, there are now 34 cases of novel coronavirus in Canada – 20 in Ontario, 13 in B.C. and one in Quebec.

Meanwhile neighbouring Washington state announced that 10 people have died of COVID-19 in the past week. The state now has a total of 39 confirmed cases.

“We are asking all travellers returning from Iran and China to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return home to Canada,” says the Ministry of Health in a statement.

“All other travellers who are returning to, or visiting, B.C. from outside Canada should monitor themselves and their children closely for symptoms and if any arise, limit their contact with others and call 811.”

As of the time of publication, the total number of COVID-19 patients worldwide has risen to 95,180.

Nearly 3,260 people have died from the illness and 51,443 have made a fully recovery.