What you need to know about COVID-19 in B.C. on March 11, 2020
3 Metro Vancouver schools closed after community members test positive for illness
- The World Health Orgnaization (WHO) is now describing the coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic.
- Seven more people in B.C. tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing the province's total to 39.
- Two new cases are health-care workers at a care home in North Vancouver.
- Three schools in Metro Vancouver closed out of an abundance of caution after community members, including a parent, tested positive for COVID-19.
- Nurses and doctors are preparing for the possibility that medical resources could be stretched thin.
- The B.C. Dental Hygienists Association is warning its members could be laid off, and dental visits cancelled, if a medical mask shortage continues to grow.
- Experts say organizers and attendees should make risk assessments and take precautions about upcoming social events here in B.C. and abroad.
- Premier John Horgan told the Surrey Board of Trade on Tuesday that the virus will affect the economy in the short-term.
What you need to know today
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced seven new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday. That includes two more patients believed to have contracted the disease through community transmission — they don't have a recent history of travel and haven't had any contact with known infected people.
The new cases also include two health-care workers at Lynn Valley Care Centre, which has experienced an outbreak of novel coronavirus. The remaining three cases have been traced to travel overseas.
Coast Meridian Elementary School in Surrey, B.C., is closed as a precaution after the district was informed a member of the school community may have tested positive for COVID-19. A statement said school officials had been "unable" to confirm the positive test with health authorities, but decided to close the school Wednesday for deep cleaning out of "significant caution."
A Catholic elementary school in Vancouver, St. Francis of Assisi, is closed for the remainder of the week through spring break after its principal was notified a parent had tested positive for COVID-19.
A private high school linked to the elementary school, Notre Dame Regional Secondary School, is also closed because staff and students had recently contacted younger students from St. Francis of Assisi. A statement from Catholic Independent Schools Vancouver Archdiocese said the risk to the school community is low and the closures are proactive.
The Surrey Women in Business Awards have also been cancelled. The Surrey Board of Trade announced Wednesday all of its March events, including the awards ceremony, were to be postponed or cancelled.
Rogers has cancelled the Hometown Hockey Tour, including upcoming stops in North Vancouver and Campbell River.
39 cases in B.C.
B.C. has now identified a total 39 COVID-19 patients, including one elderly man who has died.
Meanwhile, officials are bracing for the impact on B.C.'s health-care system and economy as the virus continues to spread.
Henry is expected to provide another update on coronavirus on Wednesday afternoon.
- What you need to know if you live in B.C. and suspect you have COVID-19
- What we know (and don't know) about the coronavirus outbreak
- Information from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control
B.C.'s top doctor, Dr. Bonnie Henry, said the risk of contracting coronavirus in B.C. communities remains low.
Health officials widely agree the most important thing you can do to prevent coronavirus and other illnesses is to wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your face.
The World Health Organization said more than 80 per cent of COVID-19 infections are estimated to be mild.
What's happening elsewhere in Canada
In Canada, public health officials have reported a total of 94 cases.
- Ontario has reported 36 cases.
- Alberta has confirmed 14.
- Quebec has four confirmed and one presumptive case.
The Public Health Agency of Canada, which has been assessing risk as the global outbreak progresses, has said the risk is low in Canada.
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, said on Twitter that "people over 65 years of age and people with a weakened immune system or underlying medical condition are at a higher risk of developing severe disease." She advised that those more vulnerable people should avoid cruise ships, international conferences and other large indoor gatherings.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Common symptoms include:
But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia.
What should I do if I feel sick?
Stay home. Isolate yourself and call your local public health authority. Do not visit an emergency room or urgent care centre to get tested.
What can I do to protect myself?
- Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. Keep them clean.
- Keep your distance from people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Unless you're already infected, masks won't help you.
- Be aware of evolving travel advisories to different regions.
More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.