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114 samples tested for novel coronavirus in B.C., only one positive so far

Last Updated Jan 31, 2020 at 4:22 pm PDT

As of Friday, Jan. 31, the province says the number of confirmed novel coronavirus cases in B.C. remains one. (Martin MacMahon, NEWS 1130 Photo)

The province says 114 samples have been tested in B.C. for the novel coronavirus

The number of confirmed novel coronavirus cases in British Columbia remains one as of Thursday

B.C.'s medical health officer says despite WHO declaring outbreak a global emergency, it's business as usual here

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – With 114 samples tested for the novel coronavirus in British Columbia, the province has confirmed the number of positive results that have come back as of Thursday remains one.

“Right now, we are being very vigilant in B.C. Our clinicians, our medical health officers, our public health system are connecting with each other,” Provincial Medical Health Officer Doctor Bonnie Henry said. “If anybody has any concern about somebody who has travelled, who has been in contact with an ill person who has been in the affected areas of China, we are having a very low threshold for testing, which is why we have quite a high number of samples that have been tested in our lab.”

The update came on Friday, the day after the World Health Organization declared the new coronavirus outbreak a global health emergency.

According to Henry, it’s still business as usual despite the declaration from the WHO.

“The essential answer is nothing has changed,” she said. “We have increased our health sector response and our preparedness, we’ve created our coordinated response level, where we have our provincial coordinating committee — that includes our health authorities, public health, our emergency medical services, HealthLink — so that we’re all working together on common approaches, common messages, making sure that clinicians in the health care sector are up to date on what the issues are, what the risks are, and what measures we need to take to safely assess, test, and care for anybody who might have this virus here in British Columbia.”

Henry said the WHO’s decision “was not unexpected,” and added health authorities have been closely following what has been happening in China.

Part of the aim of declaring a global health emergency, Henry explained, was to “marshal resources from around the world to support all countries in being able to contain this virus.”

“To the people of China and all of those around the world who have been affected by this outbreak, we want you to know that the world stands with you,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Thursday. “We are working diligently with national and international public health partners to bring this outbreak under control as fast as possible.”

The first case in B.C. was announced earlier this week. Henry said on Friday the man in his 40s — who has been in self-isolation since his return from the Wuhan region in China — is in good condition.

In Ontario, where three cases have been confirmed, one of the patients has been discharged from the hospital to join his wife, who was announced as the Toronto-area’s second confirmed case, remains in self-isolation.

The federal government announced this week it had secured a plane to get dozens of Canadians trapped in the epicentre of the outbreak in China back to Canada, however, it’s unclear when that might happen as the country awaits approval from Beijing.

When it comes to the virus and its symptoms, Henry said new information has come to light about its incubation period.

“Some of the new data that’s come out of China has shown that the incubation period is, as we expected, for the most part around a maximum of 10 days, so we’ve been using 14 days… to give ourselves a bit of a buffer zone,” she said. “But most people start showing symptoms around day three, four, five, at the latest.”

A number of flights into China have been temporarily suspended due to the outbreak, which has infected close to 10,000 people and killed 213 in China. The novel coronavirus outbreak has already impacted businesses as well as even trade in many countries.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to show 114 samples have been tested, as opposed to 114 people.