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Two 'sentinel' COVID-19 events seen in Canada as number of infections nears 100,000 globally

Last Updated Mar 6, 2020 at 8:07 am PDT

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19.THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, NIAID-RML

More than 40 infections have been confirmed since the outbreak began across Canada

An infectious diseases expert believes the number of COVID-19 cases reported will pick up

Two sentinel COVID-19 events have now been reported in Canada - in B.C. and Ontario

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – As B.C. saw its first possible case of community spread COVID-19, Ontario reported one of its latest diagnoses was a person who had recently travelled to Las Vegas.

The two cases represent someone without an obvious travel history to a virus hotspot or contact with someone who was sick, and Canada’s first imported infection acquired in the U.S.

The case in B.C. was identified through ongoing influenza testing, according to the provincial health officer, who added everyone being tested for the flu in the province is also being tested for COVID-19.

Many people have already recovered, but more than 40 infections have been confirmed since the outbreak began across Canada, and one expert believes the pace will pick up.

Dr. Isaac Bogoch is an infectious diseases expert. With two sentinel COVID-19 events in Canada over the span of 24 hours, he believes checking a person’s travel history is rapidly becoming irrelevant.

In B.C., the province’s health minister said a “government-wide response” would be announced in Vancouver on Friday by Premier John Horgan.

“The premier will be speaking as it involves issues beyond the Ministry of Health, just to bring people up to date in response to some of the questions that have already been answered, but just to give people the sense of what our response has been over the last more than a month and what it will be in the coming weeks,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said.

He added emergency operations centres in every health authority have been in place since January, and the BC Centre for Disease Control has been busy running tests for the novel coronavirus.

According to Dix, the BCCDC has run more tests than any other lab in the country for the new virus.

South of the border, there are 235 Canadians listed on a manifest for the Grand Princess cruise which is still being isolated off the coast of California because of virus concerns.

As a result of the global outbreak and increasingly severe situation, Princess Cruises is temporarily revising its cancellation policy for cruises departing through May 3.

The Grand Princess is the first ship scheduled to arrive for Vancouver’s cruise season, however, it’s unclear how or if the outbreak will impact its scheduling.

With spring break quickly approaching, B.C.’s top doctor urged people to reconsider any trips outside of Canada, saying, “International travel right now is a risk.”

“And people coming back right now from outside Canada, we really do ask them to be very cognizant of their own symptoms and to have a low threshold, even if they just have the sniffles, to stay home and stay away from others, see how it evolves,” Dr. Bonnie Henry said Thursday.

The number of cases of COVID-19 has neared 100,000 worldwide. In an effort to try to contain the spread of the virus, more countries are starting to implement travel restrictions, however, Canada is not among them. Despite Canada’s reluctance to impose travel bans like some of its allies, the prime minister has defended his government’s response to the outbreak.

Meanwhile, the federal government is expected to announce support for Canadians who have to be quarantined because of the virus.

According to the country’s finance minister, Ottawa will increase the risk adjustment provision in the upcoming budget to make sure the government is ready to deal with the impact of COVID-19.

The virus has also had an impact on businesses and the economy. Earlier this week, both the Bank of Canada and the U.S. Federal Reserve slashed their key interest rates in an effort to dampen the economic damage being caused by the outbreak.

-With files from Kathryn Tindale, Cormac Mac Sweeney, and The Canadian Press