A woman in her 30s who returned from Iran within the past week is British Columbia’s sixth case of COVID-19.
Provincial health officer Bonnie Henry said Thursday that the woman, who tested presumptive positive, has a “relatively milder form of the disease.” She was assessed at a hospital and is now in self-isolation at home in the Fraser Health region, which spans from Burnaby to Hope.
“This one, clearly, is a bit unusual in that the travel to Iran is something new,” Dr. Henry said. “Iran has recently started reporting cases, and we are working, and will be working, with our national and international colleagues to better understand where the risks are and where she may have been exposed to this virus prior to her return to Canada.”
Health officials are now investigating details of the woman’s travel and will work to determine whether other passengers on her flight home need to be notified.
Iran has so far reported five cases of COVID-19 and two deaths.
“That, obviously, triggered a bit of interest from people around the world who are looking into this virus,” Dr. Henry said.
“This is what we call an indicator, or a sentinel event, as well, [which is] a marker that something may be going on broader than what we expect.”
Cases are deemed presumptive positive, or presumptive confirmed, when local tests turn up positive for the virus. However, all samples must then be sent to the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg for official confirmation.
This latest case is Canada’s ninth, with six of those in B.C. and three in Ontario. As of Thursday, three of those nine cases have been resolved. A person is deemed fully recovered with the resolution of symptoms and two negative test results taken 24 hours apart.
Dr. Henry said the risk of the virus spreading within B.C. remains low.
The most important measures to prevent respiratory illness, including COVID-19, are regular hand-washing, avoiding touching the face, coughing or sneezing into the elbow rather than hands and staying away from others if sick.
As of Feb. 20, there have been 75,748 confirmed cases of COVID-19 globally, and 2,129 deaths.
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