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Coronavirus update: No new cases in B.C., health officials say
VANCOUVER -- Health officials say they are continuing to aggressively test for the coronavirus – now called COVID-19 – and have not identified any new cases in B.C.
On Tuesday, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said officials have tested 371 samples for COVID-19, up about 50 samples from the last bi-weekly update provided on Friday.
"We have no new cases in British Columbia, so we remain at four people who we've identified with COVID-19 here," Henry said.
All four patients, whose infections have all been confirmed by the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg, remain recovering at home in isolation.
Health authorities are also continuing to make daily check-ins with the people who came into close contact with the coronavirus patients prior to their diagnoses, and so far none of them have fallen ill.
The new name of the coronavirus was announced Tuesday by the World Health Organization, and is a combination of the words "coronavirus" and "disease," while the 19 represents the fact that the virus was first discovered in late December 2019.
Dr. Henry jokingly called the name COVID-19 "highly imaginative, I guess," but said that is how B.C. health officials will be referring to the virus from now on.
As has been the norm since the B.C. government began providing regularly scheduled updates, Henry also addressed some reports and rumours circulating about the virus.
That included speculation that someone infected with COVID-19 took 24 days to develop symptoms, about 10 days longer than the established incubation period.
Henry said the WHO is investigating, but that 14 days remains a safe timeline for determining whether someone exposed to the virus was infected.
"For the vast majority of people it's actually under 10 days (for symptoms to develop) – 99 per cent are within 11 and a half days," she added.
The four confirmed COVID-19 patients in B.C. are all said to be doing well, and health officials are checking in with them daily either by phone or in person.
"They're asked about their symptoms, how they're feeling. If there's a need for them to be assessed, it would be done at an emergency department and arrangements would be made ahead of time," Henry said.
The number of fatalities linked to the virus has reached 1,018. Monday was the deadliest day recorded so far, with more than 100 lives lost to COVID-19.
Henry said that's to be expected as thousands of people infected at the epicentre of the outbreak enter what she called a "critical period" for the virus. Patients' symptoms either begin to improve or worsen around the end of the first week or into the second.
"That is why we're seeing more people with severe illness and more people dying, and that is likely to go on for some time because there are still so many people being identified," Henry said.
The doctor also noted the WHO has landed a team of experts in China to help with the country's COVID-19 response, something she said will help combat "misinformation and concern about how open the Chinese government is being with cases."
"We have no reason to believe we're not getting accurate information," Henry said. "So I think if nothing else it will be very helpful to have those experts from WHO on the ground."