A man in his 50s has been identified as B.C.’s ninth case of COVID-19, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said.
Henry said the man is living in the Fraser Health area and just recently returned from a trip to Iran. This brings Canada’s total count of COVID-19 cases to 30.
According to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, 1,012 individuals and 1,425 samples have been tested as of Friday.
Henry said anyone planning to travel should check federal travel advisories and possibly postpone travel, especially to places seeing outbreaks of COVID-19. Currently, Canadians are being advised against non-essential travel to China, northern Italy and Iran. Less severe travel advisories are also in place for Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and South Korea.
“There may not be access to things like healthcare in the place you’re going if they have an outbreak of COVID-19,” Henry said.
“What is your tolerance for being caught in a quarantine in another country?”
Travel in Canada and North America is largely safe, Henry said, but notes people should make sure to take standard precautions like washing their hands, coughing into your sleeve and staying away from others if you’re sick.
Henry says the only way to be sure is to get tested for COVID-19.
But regardless of if you think it's a cold or flu or COVID-19: "Stay away from others when you're sick."@BlackPressMedia
— Kat Slepian (@katslepian) March 3, 2020
Here in B.C, Henry said there was no need for healthy people to avoid mass gatherings right now but event planners should check with local health authorities to see if there’s any cause for concern.
“If anybody who is coming to your gathering has travelled recently, especially to the affected countries… we ask them to stay away from any gatherings.”
This especially applies to people who’ve travelled to Iran, which has seen a surge in COVID-19 cases, and is particularly key with Iranian New Year celebrations happening later this month.
But Henry said if anyone has any doubts: “If you’re sick, stay away.”
Although it’s important to be cautious, Henry said it’s important to not stigmatize people who come from areas with coronavirus outbreaks.
In recent weeks, rumours have spread of people with COVID-19 in various school districts, both in Fraser Health and the Interior.
Henry said it’s important for parents and teachers to speak to kids in a suitable way; validating their fears but not causing panic, and making sure no one is bullying children they think could have the coronavirus.
“They may feel the anxiety in their peers, from social media, from their family and from media they’re being exposed to,” Henry said.
“It’s important to validate that, to say ‘yeah, it is concerning. What are you worried about?”