B.C. health officials identified seven more cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, three of them related to travel to Egypt.
They include the first case on Vancouver Island, a man in his 60s who was with a tour group to Egypt where another traveller was identified Tuesday as having the novel coronavirus. Another new case is a man in his 70s who lives in Egypt and is visiting the Fraser Health region.
Two more of the new cases were identified in the Fraser Health region through surveillance screening of people being tested for seasonal influenza. They are a man and woman, both in their 60s, who are in isolation at home as their recent contacts are investigated.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the new cases indicate a need for people to take care if they have cough, fever or other respiratory symptoms, and avoid social gatherings.
“We must all step up our social distancing,” Henry said. “This is not forever, it is for the coming weeks.”
The new cases bring the B.C. total to 46. Henry said there is no indication yet of a need to close schools.
— Tom Fletcher (@tomfletcherbc) March 11, 2020
Premier John Horgan said he is travelling to Ottawa Thursday for a first ministers’ meeting, to discuss Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s $1 billion fund to respond to the coronavirus, including fast-tracked Employment Insurance payments for people staying away from work due to illness.
“It’s not something we want you to get from the internet or random sources,” Horgan said on a conference call with B.C. religious leaders Wednesday.
Alberta health officials announced five new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, bringing the total for the province to 19. They are advising people to avoid large gatherings and international travel, and those aged 65 and over to remain within Canada.
The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 to be a pandemic Wednesday, with more than 100,000 people infected and Iran and Italy the current front lines of new cases.
“They’re suffering, but I guarantee you other countries will be in that situation soon, said Dr. Mike Ryan, the WHO’s emergencies chief.