With seven new COVID-19 cases announced Saturday related to an outbreak at a North Vancouver care home, B.C.’s top doctor suspects there may be more confirmed cases in the coming days.
As of Saturday, there were 73 confirmed cases of which six have recovered, two are in hospital and one – a man in his 80s with a number of underlying health issues – has died. The rest are under quarantine where they will remain until they produce two negative tests within 24 hours.
B.C. health officials said there were a total of nine new cases of the novel coronavirus in the province since Friday. In addition to those linked to the North Vancouver outbreak, one case was identified within the Fraser Health Authority and a second presumptive case within the Interior Health Authority.
But provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry also tried to tide concerns that people who feel under the weather – including those who have travelled overseas – don’t necessarily need to be tested for the novel coronavirus.
“Even if you have mild symptoms, or if you have no symptoms and you have returned from travel, you don’t need testing,” she told reporters during a Saturday news briefing. “We want to make sure that people with no symptoms understand they don’t need to be tested for COVID-19.”
She added that testing protocols will be focused on health care staff, those in long-term care homes and those linked to the existing outbreaks in North Vancouver. People who show serious symptoms, which include lung infections and extreme coughing, will also be tested after calling HealthLink BC at 811.
The province has tested more than 6,000 people, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, with 4,000 of those tests in the last few days. As people await their lab results, which can take two or more days, they are told to self-isolate. Those who travel outside of Canada, including to the U.S., will be asked to stay away from work, school and other public places for 14 days upon their return.
Two of the confirmed cases previously announced as being linked to the Vancouver Coastal Health authority are actually residents within the Northern Health Authority. They had travelled overseas, landing in the Lower Mainland where they were screened and tested positive, Henry said, adding their conditions were mild. Since then, they have driven home where they remain in self-isolation.
This means that every health authority in British Columbia has at least one confirmed COVID-19 case.
Health Minister Adrian Dix said that testing centres will be opening across the province, but the exact locations will be announced by individual health authorities in the coming days.
“When these centres are open, they’re not for people to go to,” said Dix, asking that people not flock to these locations unnecessarily.