British Columbia

B.C. health officials say coronavirus risk remains low, despite new case in Ontario

As a man in his 50s receives treatment in a Toronto hospital for the coronavirus, health officials in B.C. are reassuring people that there are no cases in the province and medical professionals are prepared to deal with a case should someone be diagnosed.

Canada's first case of the virus was announced Saturday in Toronto

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix, left, listens to an official from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control on Friday as he explains how officials are monitoring the coronavirus. (Adrian Dix/Twitter)

As a man in his 50s receives treatment in a Toronto hospital for the coronavirus, health officials in B.C. are reassuring people that there are no cases in the province and medical professionals are prepared to deal with a case should someone be diagnosed.

On Saturday, health officials in Ontario confirmed that the man, who is in stable condition at Sunnybrook Hospital, had recently travelled to Wuhan, China and fell ill upon his return. Lab results appear to show he has the coronavirus, which has sickened hundreds of people, mostly in Central China, and resulted in dozens of deaths.

The virus has also been detected in several other countries, including the United States, where a Washington state man in his 30s was diagnosed on Tuesday.

Ontario's health minister and chief medical officer of health were joined by several other officials during a Saturday news conference, where they presented details of Canada's first case of coronavirus. They said they were confident steps had been taken to prevent its spread and protect the public from the virus.

Following the news conference, B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and the province's health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, issued a joint statement that mostly reiterated what the B.C. Centre for Disease Control said at a news conference on Friday.

"To date, there have been no cases of illness caused by the novel coronavirus in British Columbia and the overall risk to B.C. is still considered low," said the statement.

The pair expressed confidence in their Ontario peers to prevent the spread of the virus and noted that B.C. is ready to deal with cases should they emerge here. 

The statement also said that the B.C. Centre for Disease Control has developed a diagnostic test for the new coronavirus. Efforts are also being made to make sure adequate medical supplies are in place. 

Health-care workers have been asked to be vigilant and to ask patients with respiratory symptoms to report their travel history.

The majority of cases of the new coronavirus worldwide have been linked to people being in Wuhan, China.

Dix and Henry are asking B.C. residents who may have been exposed to coronavirus — or who are experiencing symptoms associated with the disease, such as a fever and cough — to call their doctor, local health office, or 811.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control is sharing the latest information about the coronavirus on its website and Twitter feed.

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