Interior Health investigating presumptive case of COVID-19, says chief medical health officer

A woman living in the Interior Health region has been identified as having the fifth presumptive case of COVID-19 in B.C., provincial authorities announced on Friday.

British Columbia’s minister of health, Adrian Dix, and the province’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, made the announcement.

Henry said the woman travelled from Shanghai, China, to Vancouver, and then by private vehicle to the Interior.

No information was given as to who the woman is or where she lives, other than she’s in isolation at home and that she’s in good condition.

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Henry said the woman’s close contacts are in isolation as well.

“Interior Health is doing an investigation, even as we speak to get all of the details and to work out where, exactly, she has been over the last little while,” said Henry.

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“We do know that she came in through Shanghai. She was not in Hubei province and was not in an area where travel was restricted.”

During the press conference, Henry said the woman received health advice, that she was self-isolating and monitoring herself, and that she called ahead when she felt she needed medical attention.

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“The public health officer in the Interior, the medical health officer, was contacted,” said Henry. “Testing was done on the 11th and the results came back at the BCCDC lab yesterday afternoon (Feb. 13).

“The investigation is ongoing now and Interior Health and Vancouver Coastal Health are following up on any of the close contacts that we have.”

Henry added “we are very grateful and thankful that the people who are coming back from Hubei province, but also all over China, are taking the advice very seriously to self-monitor and to connect with us, and make sure that they can be tested, assessed and cared for safely.”

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Henry noted that the province has done a lot of COVID-19 testing, with 715 samples from around 500 people across B.C. having been collected as of Friday.

“I think this really reflects that our system is working and that people are trusting when they have concerns, have symptoms, that they can reach out to public health and be safely assessed, and treated if need be,” said Henry.

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She added that B.C.’s first case of COVID-19 is recovering, which Henry called a good sign.

In related news, the superintendent of Central Okanagan Public Schools released a letter regarding COVID-19 on Thursday.

Kevin Kaardal said the school district is in regular communication with provincial authorities and Interior Health in regards to the virus.

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The letter also listed recommendations from the medical health officer.

  • Students or staff who are returning from Hubei Province, China consider staying home for 14 days after they leave Hubei.
  • They should monitor themselves daily for symptoms like fever or cough. Parents should assist children as needed.
  • Those who develop symptoms should stay home and call their health care provider or call 8-1-1 to discuss any need for testing and follow-up.
  • Students or staff who have been in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus consider staying home for 14 days after their last encounter.
  • Individuals should monitor themselves daily for symptoms like fever or cough. Parents should assist children as needed.
  • Those who develop symptoms should stay home and call their health care provider or call 8-1-1 to discuss any need for testing and follow-up.
  • Students or staff who have been in other parts of China (outside Hubei Province) should monitor themselves daily for symptoms like fever or cough for 14 days. Parents should assist children as needed.
  • Those who develop symptoms should stay home and call their health care provider or call 8-1-1 to discuss any need for testing and follow-up.
  • Misinformation is circulating on social media regarding the virus. Families are encouraged to refer to official sources.
  • The public are also being asked to not make assumptions about the risk of students or staff based on their ethnicity or travel history.

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The letter also offered tips to reduce your risk of contracting the flu, colds or COVID-19.

  • Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds using soap and water.
  • If a sink is not available, alcohol-based hand rubs (ABHR) can be used to clean hands if they are not visibly soiled.
  • If they are visibly soiled, using a wipe and then ABHR is effective.
  • Do not touch your face/eyes/mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough with a disposable tissue or the crease of your elbow.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces. Regular household cleaning products are effective against most viruses.
  • Stay home if you are sick and away from others so you don’t pass it on.

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