Novel Coronavirus Update as of Feb. 21, 2020

February 21, 2020 – School district and independent school updated messages:

On Feb. 20, Minister of Health Adrian Dix and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry issued a joint statement announcing B.C.’s sixth case of COVID-19 – a woman in her 30’s in the Fraser Health region, who recently returned to B.C. from Iran. Please see the joint statement for more information: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2020HLTH0041-000304

Please note provincial recommendations on travel-related, self isolation:

  • The Provincial Health Officer is advising people who have been to Hubei province in the last 14 days, or who have been in contact with someone who has, to call public health officials and self-isolate for 14 days.
  • The Provincial Health Officer is also advising that anyone who is concerned they may have been exposed to, or are experiencing symptoms of, the coronavirus should contact their primary care provider, local public health office or call 811. Translation services for 811 are available in more than 130 languages.

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February 14, 2020 – School district and independent school updated messages:

On Feb. 14, the Minister of Health and the Provincial Health Officer issued a joint statement announcing B.C.’s fifth (presumed) case of novel coronavirus (COVID-2019) – a woman in her 30’s, living in the Interior Health region. The woman traveled to Vancouver from Shanghai. The woman displayed symptoms shortly after arrival and promptly self-isolated and contacted public health officials. For more information, please see joint statement: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2020HLTH0036-000284

 Please note provincial recommendations on travel related, self isolation:

  • The Provincial Health Officer is advising people who have been to Hubei province in the last 14 days, or who have been in contact with someone who has, to call public health officials and self-isolate for 14 days.
  • The Provincial Health Officer is also advising that anyone who is concerned they may have been exposed to, or are experiencing symptoms of, the coronavirus should contact their primary care provider, local public health office or call 811. Translation services for 811 are available in more than 130 languages.

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Provincial Health Officer has provided a letter to share with parents and guardians regarding the novel coronavirus – Feb. 7, 2020

Date: February 7, 2020

Dear: Parents/Guardians

We are writing to give you updated information on the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), a new virus causing respiratory illness. Families may be concerned about the risk to their families. The highest number of infections continue to be reported from Hubei Province, China. There have been a small number of cases of 2019-nCoV in B.C. which are being very closely managed. The risk to British Columbians remains low.

Our knowledge of this virus continues to grow, and we are using new information to adjust our public health recommendations. We are now aware of early evidence that this virus can cause a range of mild to severe symptoms, and it is possible that people will not recognize symptoms that are mild. During this time, they can reduce the chance of spread by limiting contact with others.

Therefore, we now recommend that:
• Students or staff returning from Hubei Province, China consider staying home for 14 days after they left Hubei. They should monitor themselves daily for symptoms like fever or cough. Parents should assist children as needed. Those who develop symptoms, should stay home and call their health-care provider or 8-1-1 to discuss any need for testing and follow up.
• Students or staff, who have been in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with 2019-nCoV should consider staying home for 14 days after their last encounter. Individuals should monitor themselves daily for symptoms like fever and cough. Parents should assist children as needed. Those who develop symptoms should stay home and call their healthcare provider or 8-1-1 to discuss any need for testing and follow up.
• Students or staff who have been in other parts of China (outside Hubei Province) should monitor themselves daily for symptoms like fever or cough for 14 days. Parents should assist children as needed. Those who develop symptoms should stay home and call their healthcare provider or 8-1-1 to discuss any need for testing and follow up.

The Ministry of Education continues to be in close contact with public health officials at all levels of government and ask the public not to make assumptions about the risk of students or staff based on their ethnicity or travel history.

Advice for Students and Families Considering Travel:
Students and families considering travel to and from China are encouraged to consult the Novel Coronavirus in China Travel Health Notice on the Government of Canada Travel and Tourism site regularly. Recommendations change as new information becomes available.

Advice on School Events, Outings and Field Trips
It is not necessary to cancel school events, outings or field trips to public locations in B.C. and Canada and to most places in the world. The Government of Canada has advised however, the public should avoid non-essential travel to China.

Advice on masks from Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry:
When sick, wearing a mask helps to prevent us from passing on illnesses to other people. But if you are not sick, we do not know if wearing a mask will prevent infection, especially for children who may not be able to wear a mask properly. People wearing a mask may also touch their faces more often, potentially increasing the risk of having the eyes, nose or mouth come into contact with the virus.

Some parents wonder if a child who is returning from an affected area of China should wear a mask to school. Since the main way the virus is spread is through coughing and sneezing, this isn’t necessary for healthy children. Wearing masks in public, with a goal of preventing spread of illness, can be a way some communities show respect for others. While we do not recommend wearing masks for healthy children, it is important that any children who do wear masks are treated with respect and not fear.

Reducing the risk of coronavirus, colds and flu
• Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds using soap and water.
• If a sink is not available, alcohol-based hand rubs (ABHR) can be used to clean hands if they are not visibly soiled. If they are visibly soiled using a wipe and then ABHR is effective.
• Do not touch your face/eyes/mouth with unwashed hands.
• Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough with a disposable tissue or the crease of your elbow.
• Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces. Regular household cleaning products are effective against most viruses.
• Stay home if you are sick and away from others so you don’t pass it on.

A new toll-free phone number (1 833 784-4397) has been established to answer questions from Canadians about the 2019 novel coronavirus. Service is available from 7 a.m. to midnight EST.

Anyone who is concerned they may have been exposed to, or are experiencing symptoms of, the coronavirus should contact their primary care provider, local public health office, or call 8-1-1.

Further information about novel coronavirus is available on the BC Centre for Disease Control website.

 

February 6, 2020 – Joint statement on two new cases of 2019 novel coronavirus in B.C. 

Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, and Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, have issued the following joint statement regarding updates on the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in British Columbia:

“We are announcing two new cases of novel coronavirus in B.C. The people affected are in the same household and have been in close contact with the previously reported second confirmed case announced on Feb. 5. The three cases and all close contacts remain in isolation at home.

“The two individuals are presumed positive based on local testing, and samples have been sent to the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg for final confirmation. One individual is male, the other female, and both are in their 30s. They are visitors to the Vancouver Coastal Health region from Hubei province, China.

“Vancouver Coastal Health continues to investigate. Their close contacts have been identified and continue to be followed by the health authority.

“Our knowledge of 2019-nCoV continues to grow as new information becomes available. Across the country, the federal, provincial and territorial governments are using this new evidence to inform and adjust our public health actions as circumstances develop globally.

“We want to reassure people that the risk of spread of this virus within British Columbia remains low at this time. We are watching the situation very closely and will notify the public if measures in B.C. change. The goal is rapid identification of potential cases, timely care for those who need it and prevention of local transmission.

“Now is the time for tolerance. We call on all British Columbians to come together as a community to help one another. In this time of uncertainty, this is not only the right response, but the necessary one. Fear obstructs the important work of our public health officials to protect the health and safety of British Columbians.

“The most important measures to prevent all respiratory illnesses, including this novel coronavirus, remain cleaning your hands regularly and avoiding touching your face, as well as coughing or sneezing into your elbow sleeve, disposing of tissues appropriately and staying home and away from others if you become sick.

“As we recommended in our last briefing, and together with our federal and provincial partners, we ask people who have recently visited, or who have been in close contact with someone who has recently visited the Hubei province in China, to call public health officials and self-isolate for 14 days.

“Anyone who is concerned they may have been exposed to, or are experiencing symptoms of, the coronavirus should contact their primary care provider, local public health office or call 811. Translation services for 811 are available in more than 130 languages.”

Learn More:

For more information and latest updates on 2019-nCoV, follow the BC Centre for Disease Control on Twitter @CDCofBC or visit the website: http://www.bccdc.ca/

February 4, 2020 – Joint statement on second case of 2019 novel coronavirus in B.C. and federal travel recommendations

Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, and Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, have issued the following joint statement regarding updates on the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in British Columbia:

“We are announcing a second presumptive positive case of novel coronavirus in B.C.

“The second person who tested positive is a woman in her 50s who resides in the Vancouver Coastal Health region. Laboratory testing results returned positive from the BC Centre for Disease Control late Monday, Feb. 3, and samples have been sent to the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg for confirmation. Vancouver Coastal Health is undertaking a detailed case investigation and will follow up with each of her close contacts. The individual had close contact with family visitors from Wuhan city and is in isolation at home.

“Our knowledge of 2019-nCoV continues to grow as new information becomes available. Across the country, federal, provincial and territorial governments are using this new evidence to inform and adjust our public health actions as circumstances develop globally.

“As the federal government works to bring returning Canadians home from Wuhan, the decision was made to quarantine passengers from the special charter flight for 14 days. These individuals are returning from the most intensely affected areas of China, and they will receive psychosocial and medical support upon their return, as well as consular services.

“We are working closely with public health officials across Canada. Our focus is on people in British Columbia. Given the changing dynamics of the outbreak in China and globally, and recognizing we are in the midst of influenza season, we ask anyone here in B.C. who has been in Hubei province to consider staying home and keeping their children home until 14 days have passed from their last visit to Hubei. Monitor yourself and your children closely for symptoms, and if any symptoms arise, connect with your primary care provider, local public health office or call 811. This is an important way to reduce the possibility of transmission of illness to others.

“We want to reassure people that the risk of this virus spreading within British Columbia remains low at this time. We are watching the evolution of the outbreak in China very closely and will notify the public if the measures we need to take in B.C. change.

“The most important measures to prevent all respiratory illnesses including this novel coronavirus remain cleaning your hands regularly, avoiding touching your face, coughing or sneezing into your elbow sleeve, disposing of tissues appropriately and staying home and away from others if you become sick.

“Anyone who is concerned they may have been exposed to, or are experiencing symptoms of, the coronavirus should contact their primary care provider, local public health office or call 811. Translation services for 811 are available in more than 130 languages.”

Learn More:

For more information and latest updates on 2019-nCoV, follow the BC Centre for Disease Control on Twitter @CDCofBC or visit the website: http://www.bccdc.ca/

Provincial health officer’s Jan. 29, 2020, statement confirming 2019-nCoV:
https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2020HLTH0016-000176

For the Jan. 28, 2020, joint statement on 2019-nCoV, visit:
https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2020HLTH0015-000151

For a Punjabi translation: http://news.gov.bc.ca/files/2020-Feb4-Coronavirus-Update_Punjabi.pdf

 

February 3, 2020 – Joint statement on updates on the 2019 novel coronavirus in B.C. 

Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, and Dr. Bonnie Henry, British Columbia’s provincial health officer, have issued the following joint statement regarding updates on the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in British Columbia:

“The federal government announced its plans to bring Canadians home from Hubei, China. In the near future, a repatriation flight will bring Canadians from Hubei province, including Wuhan city, to Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Trenton near Toronto. Each of these returning Canadians, including staff and flight crew, will remain at CFB Trenton for 14 days to receive the necessary social and medical support they may need.

“We have been working closely with the federal government to ensure the repatriation process is smooth and conducted in a way that best protects the returning Canadians and the public here at home. It is expected that B.C. will be the final destination for some of the returning Canadians, and we will continue liaising with the federal government as it identifies passengers for the repatriation flight.

“The returning Canadians will spend 14 days at CFB Trenton, which is the 2019 novel coronavirus maximum incubation period, so they can be assessed and monitored, and to support their transition back to Canada.

“In B.C., we have chosen testing criteria with an intentionally low threshold to purposely ensure a wide range of people are eligible for novel coronavirus testing. On Friday, Jan. 31, we reported testing 114 samples and one confirmed case. Updates will be published each Friday at: www.bccdc.ca

“There continues to be one confirmed case in B.C.

“We want to reassure people that the risk of this virus spreading within British Columbia remains low at this time. We are watching the evolution of the outbreak in China very closely and will notify the public if the measures we need to take in B.C. change.

“All necessary precautions are being taken to prevent the spread of infection. We have multiple systems in place to prepare for, detect and respond in order to prevent the spread of serious infectious diseases in the province.

“The most important measures to prevent all respiratory illnesses, including this novel coronavirus, remain cleaning your hands regularly, avoiding touching your face, coughing or sneezing into your elbow sleeve, disposing of tissues appropriately and staying home and away from others if you become sick.

“Anyone who is concerned they may have been exposed to, or are experiencing symptoms of, the coronavirus should contact their primary care provider, local public health office or call 811. Translation services for 811 are available in more than 130 languages.”

Learn More:

For more information and latest updates on 2019-nCoV, follow the BC Centre for Disease Control on Twitter @CDCofBC or visit the website: http://www.bccdc.ca/

Provincial health officer’s Jan. 29, 2020, statement confirming 2019-nCoV:
https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2020HLTH0016-000176

For the Jan. 28, 2020, joint statement on 2019-nCoV, visit:
https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2020HLTH0015-000151

For a Chinese translation: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/2020.02.03CoronavirusUpdate_CN.pdf

For a Punjabi translation: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/2020_Punjabi-ST_Feb3_Coronavirus_Update_Feb3_1115.pdf

 

January 31, 2020 – School district and independent school updated messages:

  • The World Health Organization has declared the novel coronavirus a global health emergency; however, the B.C. Provincial Health Officer is advising that the risk is low within British Columbia and all necessary precautions are being taken to prevent the spread of infection.
  • The Ministry of Health has advised and confirmed that individuals returning from affected regions do not need to be isolated at home or kept home from school.
  • The Ministry of Education is in regular communication with the Ministry of Health, the Provincial Health Officer and local health authorities to learn of public health decisions and to ensure students and employees are kept informed and safe.
  • The Ministry of Education would ask that you do not make assumptions about the risk of students or staff based on their ethnicity or travel history.

 

Reducing the risk

The BC Centre for Disease Control recommends that to reduce the risk of exposure to novel coronavirus, individuals employ the same measures that are taken in relation to colds and flu:

  • Wash one’s hands frequently for at least 20 seconds using soap and hot water (it is the single most effective way of reducing the spread of infection).
  • Practice other good hygiene habits: do not touch one’s face/eyes/mouth with one’s hands and cover one’s mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing (ideally with a disposable tissue or the crease of the elbow).
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched workspace surfaces.
  • Maintain good general health (eat a balanced diet, get enough sleep, exercise in moderation).
  • Stay home if sick.
  • A new toll-free phone number (1-833-784-4397) has been established to answer questions from Canadians about the 2019 novel coronavirus. Service is available from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. until January 29 and from 7 a.m. to midnight starting January 30 (Eastern Standard Time).

 

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