Provincial health authorities confirm first presumptive case of coronavirus in BC

In a January 28 press conference, provincial health authorities confirmed the first case of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in BC.

The patient is a man in his 40s and a resident of the Vancouver Coastal Health region. He often traveled to China for work trips and was in Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, during his most recent trip.

As of now, the case is officially classified as “presumptive.”

According to a joint-statement between BC’s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and BC Minister of Health Adrian Dix, the patient returned to Vancouver with onset symptoms. On January 26, he contacted his primary health-care provider to notify them that he had been in Wuhan recently and was experiencing symptoms of coronavirus.

Late on January 27, the BC Centre for Disease Control (BC CDC) confirmed a positive test for 2019-nCoV. The patient remains in isolation at home.

In the statement, provincial health authorities affirmed they are in contact with the patient and the risk of the virus spreading in BC still remains low.

“The risk of spread of this virus within British Columbia remains low at this time. All necessary precautions are being taken to prevent the spread of infection,” reads the statement.

“The BC Centre for Disease Control has a team of experts that support the Province's operations in monitoring and controlling communicable and vaccine-preventable diseases. The team has developed a diagnostic test for this new coronavirus and is co-ordinating staff and supplies to ensure potential cases can be detected quickly and accurately.”

2019-nCoV was first detected in Wuhan, a city in China’s Hubei province. According to a report from the BBC, more than 100 people have died and over 4,500 have been infected with the new strain of coronavirus, which had previously not been detected in humans.

Chinese state officials have put the city of Wuhan and surrounding areas on lockdown in an attempt to stop the virus from spreading. According to the World Health Organization, symptoms of 2019-nCoV range from coughing, fever and shortness of breath to pneumonia and severe acute respiratory syndrome in more serious cases.

BC health authorities are reminding people to take regular precautions to avoid illness including washing hands regularly, coughing and sneezing into one’s elbow and disposing of tissues properly.

“It is not necessary for the general public to take special precautions beyond the usual measures recommended to prevent other common respiratory viruses during the winter period,” reads the statement.

In a UBC Broadcast email sent later in the afternoon, VP Students Ainsely Carry and Interim VP Human Resources Marcia Buchholz said there have been “no reports” of Coronavirus among faculty, students and staff, and the university has been consulting with BC CDC as well as federal and provincial agencies about how to proceed.

“We take the safety and security of our community, both in Canada and abroad, very seriously and have convened a group of stakeholders from across the university to plan and coordinate actions as new information emerges,” reads the email.

UBC is also informing the community about coronavirus by posting information from BC CDC in residences and online and by sending bulletins to senior leaders.

The Broadcast email recommended students, staff and faculty check advisories on the Government of Canada's website if they plan to travel to China.

Those who are concerned they may have been exposed to the virus or are experiencing symptoms are encouraged to contact their primary-care provider or call 811.

This is an ongoing story and more information will be added as it becomes available.

This story has been updated to include comments from UBC's Broadcast email.