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B.C. confirms province's first presumptive positive case of new coronavirus
VANCOUVER -- The first presumptive positive case of novel coronavirus has been detected in British Columbia, health officials confirmed Tuesday.
The B.C. Centre for Disease Control said one patient appears to be infected with the newly discovered coronavirus and is currently in isolation at home.
The individual is a 40-year-old male who travels to China regularly and was in Wuhan city on his most recent trip, officials said. He lives in the Vancouver Coastal Health region.
"This is a gentleman who is well aware of what is going on in China and when he went home he voluntarily self-isolated," said Dr. Bonnie Henry at a news conference Tuesday.
The man contacted a health-care provider on Jan. 26 to let them known he had travelled to Wuhan and was experiencing symptoms.
That health-care provider gave a diagnostic test, which came back positive on Monday night.
The man was monitoring his own symptoms carefully and his family is also being monitored by Vancouver Coastal Health. Henry said the man arrived back in Vancouver last week and his symptoms began showing more than 24 hours after arriving home.
"This person is currently doing well and does not need hospitalization," Henry said. "This person was not symptomatic on his flight."
Henry said there is no evidence that the virus spreads when a person is asymptomatic.
"That's reassuring to us and that's certainly in line with other coronavirus infections that we've seen in the past like SARS and MERS," Henry said.
Right now the man's case is considered "presumptive positive" because confirmation is done by a second test at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg.
"The sample is on its way to Winnipeg," Henry said. "But given the history of travel, the contact that this person had in Wuhan city and the symptoms they were showing, we are confident that this truly is a case of this novel coronavirus."
Henry said NML's test result is expected in about 48 hours, but that she is confident in the result found by the B.C. lab's test.
Case no surprise, officials say
Henry added that with the high amount of travel between Metro Vancouver and China, the presumptive positive case didn't come as a surprise.
"This first case is not unexpected to us," she said.
"This does not change what we are doing in British Columbia … I would have been surprised if we did not have one or two cases."
Henry cautioned against listening to rumours of B.C. cases, saying that the provincial ministry will continue to update the public if more cases are confirmed.
"There has been a small number of people around the province that have been tested for this novel coronavirus and we have a very low threshold for that testing," Henry said. "There have been a number of tests that have been done; this is the first one that has been positive."
Prevention and screening measures
In a news release from the ministry of health, the province said the general public doesn't necessarily need to take extra measures to protect themselves from the virus.
"It is not necessary for the general public to take special precautions beyond the usual measures recommended to prevent other common respiratory viruses during the winter period," the news release said.
"Regular handwashing, coughing or sneezing into your elbow sleeve, disposing of tissues appropriately and avoiding contact with sick people are important ways to prevent the spread of respiratory illness generally."
Previously, the BC Centre for Disease Control has developed a diagnostic test for the novel coronavirus and health-care workers have been asked to record the travel history for anyone reporting respiratory symptoms.
Travellers passing through Vancouver International Airport are also being screened when they arrive at the airport, particularly if they've visited Wuhan, China, where the virus is believed to have originated.
Other cases in Canada
In Ontario, two cases have been recorded. One case has been confirmed while the second is considered presumptive positive.
Symptoms of the virus include a runny nose, headache, cough, sore throat, fever and a general feeling of being unwell.
"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," the province said.
The outbreak of the virus began on Dec. 31 with what was initially believed to be a cluster of cases of pneumonia in Wuhan, the capital city of China's Hubei province.
Officials have since confirmed the patients were actually infected with a virus never previously identified in humans, which has been dubbed the 2019 novel coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV.
Coronaviruses are a "large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases," according to Health Canada.
To date, the virus has infected more than 4,500 people and is blamed for over 100 deaths.
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Andrew Weichel and the Associated Press