British Columbia tests 114 samples for coronavirus, one case confirmed - InfoNews

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British Columbia tests 114 samples for coronavirus, one case confirmed

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C, Tuesday, January 28, 2020. British Columbia has tested 114 people for the deadly new coronavirus that's behind an outbreak in China, but only one man is positive and he's expected to recover, the provincial health officer said Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. Dr. Bonnie Henry said health officials are now at a critical phase in the response to the coronavirus after China took restrictive measures to try and control the outbreak.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
January 31, 2020 - 2:30 PM

VANCOUVER - British Columbia has tested 114 people for the deadly new coronavirus that's behind an outbreak in China, but only one man is positive and he's expected to recover, the provincial health officer said Friday.

Dr. Bonnie Henry said health officials are now at a critical phase in the response to the coronavirus after China took restrictive measures to try and control the outbreak.

"That will help protect us as well as help protect other parts of China," she said. "Having said that, those measures were taken really about 10 days ago and we are now at the point where people who have travelled here to B.C. and to Canada who are incubating this disease may start showing symptoms."

Henry said new data from China shows the incubation period is, for the most part, a maximum of 10 days. The province has been using 14 days "to give ourselves a bit of a buffer zone," Henry said, but the average period to start showing symptoms is about five days.

She urged anyone who has travelled to the affected part of China or has been in contact with someone who may have the virus to get tested.

B.C. has taken a "vigilant" approach to the coronavirus and has done a high number of tests because it has a very low threshold for testing, Henry said.

"We will be continuing that, particularly for the next week or so," she added.

Henry said the latest figures are based on results as of Thursday.

The positive result was announced earlier this week by Henry, who said the virus was confirmed in a man in his 40s after a business trip to China. The man returned home to the Vancouver area last week and had symptoms about 24 hours later.

Henry said he was doing very well at home and his close contacts are taking precautions including wearing masks and washing their hands frequently.

"It was never a severe illness," she said. "He still has some symptoms but he's been closely monitored by the health services on a daily basis, multiple times a day, and we expect that he will recover."

The patient spent most of his time in the port city of Guangzhou and visited Wuhan, the city at the centre of the outbreak.

Henry said she has been asked why the province is putting so much effort into responding to this illness when people die from influenza every year. She explained this is a new virus that has just jumped the species barrier into humans.

"If we do not take all the measures that we can take right now to make sure that we eradicate this virus from human populations, then we may end up with yet another ongoing endemic infection like influenza that we will have to deal with every year that causes severe illness and some death," she said.

The global community was successful in pushing back SARS and, having lived through that time, Henry said she is "anxious," but this is the world's chance to do the same with the new virus.

She added that it's not an "either-or" situation — the province has many measures in place to prevent and respond to influenza as well.

Asked whether she recommends that evacuees from Wuhan or China self-isolate or be quarantined upon arrival to Canada, Henry said she has discussed what should be done with her colleagues across the country.

"I believe that quarantining is a very extreme measure and it is not, in my opinion, warranted," she said. "We do, of course, want to make sure that we are monitoring people's health very carefully."

It's reasonable for close contacts of people with the virus to self-isolate, she added.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said Ottawa is taking the lead on helping Canadians who want to leave China but the province is working closely with federal officials on all issues related to the virus.

He said B.C. residents who want to feel "empowered" at this time should wash their hands, get rid of used tissues and stay home if they feel sick.

"We are most effective as a society when we are generous and compassionate, when we understand as a society what we need to do together to help each other," he added.

"When we're sick, we help each other get better. That's what makes us effective."

Canada has four confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus. The other three are in Ontario.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 31, 2020.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2020
The Canadian Press

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