The coronavirus (COVID-19) has claimed its first death in B.C. and in Canada.
Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.'s top medical health officer, told media Monday morning that the death is an elderly male resident of the Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver.
“We are deeply saddened…one of the residents passed away last night,” said Henry, who added that there are five new cases, bring the total to 32 in the province.
The man was one of two residents at the facility who were among the six new cases of the virus that were announced Saturday.
Henry said the patient, a man in his 80s with underlying health conditions, passed away Sunday night.
B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said today is a “sad day for everyone, especially for the family of the man who passed away and for everyone at (the care centre).”
Of the five new cases, Henry said two more residents at the home have tested positive for COVID-19 and that ongoing testing and monitoring of all residents has started.
The third new case is another health care worker, a woman in her 40s who lives in the Fraser Health Region and who’s at home in isolation.
The fourth and fifth new cases are close contacts of B.C.’s first known case of community transmission of the virus. Both are now in isolation and being monitored.
Asked if B.C. should be paying more attention to the spread of the disease in Washington State, Henry said her colleagues over the border are making a “gargantuan” effort to identify people who may be carrying the disease.
“I’m not as concerned about the spread (in the U.S.) as much as places like Iran,” added Henry.
Henry also revealed “disturbing” reports of people offering fraudulent COVID-19 testing for a fee.
“Our labs are (certified) and are free. They do not ask for money,” she said.
Eight of the 32 reported cases of COVID-19 in the province have fully recovered.
Six new cases of COVID-19 were announced Saturday in B.C., two of which are residents of a long-term care facility on the North Shore.
The two patients are residents of the Lynn Valley Care Centre, and were identified as part of the health authority's investigation into the previously-announced patient who contracted the virus in the community.
That patient, said Henry, is a health care worker at the care home.
Henry said the risks to elderly people from the disease is “very concerning,” adding that the care home is now in “outbreak protocol,” which includes restricting visitors, limiting residents' contact with each other and monitoring the health of residents, staff and family members.
Globally, as of Monday morning, there has been 111,954 cases of the virus, resulting in 3,893 deaths, mostly in China, where the disease first surfaced late last year.
South Korea, Italy and Iran have reported the highest number of COVID-19 cases outside of China.
Almost 63,000 of the reported cases around the world have fully recovered.
However, the World Health Organization said Monday that, although it’s getting closer, it’s not quite ready to declare the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.