Coronavirus update: B.C.'s first case out of isolation

B.C.'s first case of coronavirus has been released from isolation in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, which includes Richmond.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s top medical health officer, made the announcement Wednesday morning, adding that the patient, a man, tested negative twice and is "fully recovered."

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Henry said the second, third and fourth cases - which were revealed two weeks ago - are not showing any more symptoms and are expected to be deemed safe to come out of isolation over the next few days.

The fifth case, which was revealed last Friday as a woman in her 30s, flew in from Shanghai recently, before driving to the B.C. Interior.

She continues to have symptoms and is "doing well" in isolation at home.

"We have tracked down the people around her on that flight to give them advice and monitor them," added Henry.

"The woman had minimal symptoms on that flight and she was wearing a mask.

"We will monitor (the passengers). We have tracked down everyone's movements and there has been minimal contact (with the public)."

Asked about the coronavirus fears affecting the local Chinese restaurant industry, Henry said absolutely no Chinese restaurant, to date, is connected to any of the authorities' investigations.

As of Wednesday, more than 75,000 people have been infected globally, with more than 2,000 deaths, mostly in China.

A fifth case of coronavirus was revealed in B.C. on Friday.

Henry said Friday the fifth case had not been in the Hubei Province in China, which is understood to be the global epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak.

Henry also said the health authorities were not in a position to name which airline the fifth case in with and on what day.

“We’re not going to be giving those details right now…(we) don’t want to unnecessarily alarm people,” said Henry.

“We need people to be able to trust us and come forward. We will be able to give more information next week.”

Asked Friday if there has been any more consideration of banning flights coming into YVR from China, B.C. health minister Adrian Dix said they continue to work closely with the federal government.

“(We) take every situation seriously and we ensure people coming back (into Canada) have the correct access to health care,” said Dix at the time.

“The advice from the World Health Organization and the federal government is that we don’t (ban flights).”

Referring to messaging being put out by the Chinese consulate in Canada that people with coronavirus concerns should call 9-1-1, Henry reminded people that the number to call for health advice is 8-1-1.

It emerged on Friday that Africa has its first confirmed case of coronavirus after a person in Egypt tested positive for the disease.

The person, who is not Egyptian, was in hospital isolation, the country’s health ministry said.

The coronavirus tally in Hubei in China jumped most drastically last Thursday after the authorities changed the diagnostic criteria for counting new cases.

The government now takes into account cases diagnosed in clinical settings, including the use of CT scans, and not just those confirmed with specialized testing kits.

Last week, Henry urged the Lower Mainland's Chinese community to go about their business, despite the coronavirus death toll climbing.

Henry was asked at a media conference if it was necessary for events to be cancelled, especially in the Chinese community, where people are avoiding public places in their droves

She gave a flat “no.”

“The risk is still very low here (in B.C.) so, no, I don’t believe we should be cancelling events," Henry added at the time.

“The message is the same, if you’re feeling sick, stay at home. Wash your hands frequently and take precautions if you’re coughing and sneezing.”

Henry has previously urged people who've travelled from the Hubei province of China, the global epicentre of the virus outbreak, to self-isolate for 14 days when they return to Canada and B.C.

She also reiterated advice for people to consider quarantining themselves and their children for 14 days if they have recently travelled back from the Hubei province in China, the global epicentre of the outbreak.

B.C. health minister Adrian Dix chipped in, saying, "If you're sick, stay away from work, if your kids are sick, stay away from school."

The Richmond News previously asked the B.C. Ministry of Health to explain why the patients' city of residence is not being given.

We were told by a ministry spokesperson that “in order to maintain the privacy of the patient, we are not releasing their location at this time.”

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