One resident of a North Vancouver care facility has succumbed to novel coronavirus, making him the first person in Canada to die from the disease.
“We are deeply saddened to hear that one of the residents of the Lynn Valley Care home who was infected with COVID-19 passed away last night,” said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry in a statement to media on Monday.
“Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family and loved ones, and of course to the staff who provided him care at the facility.”
Dr. Henry also informed the public that there are now five new cases of COVID-19 in B.C., three of which are linked to the same care facility.
Two of them are residents of Lynn Valley while the third is a health care worker in her 40s who lives in Fraser Health Region and is at home in isolation.
According to Dr. Henry, all of the residents at the care facility are being monitored and receiving ongoing testing.
One of the other new cases involve a woman in her 50s who returned to Vancouver after travelling to Iran. The last patient is a man in his 50s and the first imported COVID-19 case with a history of travel to Italy. Both are in isolation at home and doing well.
At this time, three people are currently receiving hospital care for COVID-19. Two of these people were passengers on the Grand Princess cruise ship, in their 60s, and are in the Fraser Health region.
The third is a woman in her 80s recovering in ICU at Vancouver General Hospital.
As of today’s update, there still remains four people who have recovered from COVID-19 completely in B.C.
While there are other patients whose symptoms have disappeared, the BCCDC require two negative tests at least 24 hours apart in order to declare a patient clear of coronavirus.
Finally, the Ministry of Health is warning people against falling prey to phone call scams in which callers offer fraudulent COVID-19 lab testing for a cost.
Authorities are reminding the public that novel coronavirus testing is done by the accredited BCCDC lab for free, and to not believe anyone trying to scam people for testing.
This announcement brings the total number of COVID-19 patients in B.C. to 32, and the total positive cases in Canada is at 74.
Last week, the province announced a new ‘British Columbia Pandemic Provincial Co-ordination Plan’ to respond to the evolving outbreak.
This strategy includes a wide range of preparedness actions to help all walks of life, focusing on delaying, containing and preparing the province to minimize serious illnesses.
In the wake of cruise ships like the Grand Princess being quarantined after outbreaks of COVID-19, the Ministry of Health also issued an advisory for travellers asking them to reconsider any cruise ship travel plans at this time.
The federal government has also increased the risk of cruise ship travel to Level 4, advising all Canadians to avoid going on cruise ships in the near future.
Another prevention measure would be to avoid large gatherings, particularly those attended by elderly or vulnerable people.
“There has been a notable transmission of COVID-19 at events, such as religious gatherings. As a result, we recommend social distancing and forgoing usual greetings. As an alternative, we recommend considering virtual online gatherings,” wrote Dr. Henry in a statement.
The BCCDC has also set up up a 2019 novel coronavirus telephone information line at: 1-833-784-4397.
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.
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 the time of publication, the total number of COVID-19 patients worldwide has risen to 113,754.
Nearly 4,000 people have died from the illness and 62,832 have made a fully recovery.