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Two cases of COVID19 announced in Northern Health Authority

The cases were originally diagnosed in the Vancouver Coastal Health region
northern-health-authority-family-practitioner_202001231518466
(via Northern Health)

Northern Health has its first two cases of COVID19.

Dr. Bonnie Henry and Adrian Dix made the announcement this afternoon. 

The two cases were originally diagnosed in the Vancouver Coastal Health region. Under strict protocols, they drove themselves back home and are now in isolation.

Northern Health spokesperson Eryn Collins sent the following statement to PrinceGeorgeMatters. 

"To protect people’s privacy the Province is not identifying the communities where confirmed cases reside; however, anyone potentially exposed will be contacted."

Dr. Bonnie Henry echoes a similar message, saying identities will not be revealed to protect the privacy and safety of others.

"Anyone who may be at risk of exposure to COVID-19 gets contacted by the public health officials who are supporting confirmed cases and their close contacts."

"We will not be identifying the specific location of confirmed cases unless public health providers cannot be certain they have reached all those who need to be contacted and who therefore might be a risk to the public. We want people who have symptoms to contact us and to feel safe contacting us, knowing their privacy will be protected so the steps to protect the health and safety for all can be taken. This is why privacy is important to everyone. It allows public health providers to do the work they need to do to keep everybody safe."

Nine new cases were announced today, for a total of 73 in B.C.

A second case was also announced in the Interior Health region. The case is linked to travel in "a number of places" in Europe, said Henry, most recently Portugal.

A number of Saturday's new cases are linked to the Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver. There are now four residents and 12 staff members who have tested positive for the coronavirus since an outbreak was first reported at the care home.

"This is not a surprise," said Henry. "There may be more cases that arise (there) in the coming days."

Henry also clarified the number of cases linked to Hollyburn House in West Vancouver: one resident and one staff member of the care home have tested positive.

Previously, Henry had said two staff members at Hollyburn House had tested positive, but one of them is actually an employee at the Lynn Valley Care Centre.

B.C. adapting testing strategy, discourages panic buying

The province will be changing its testing strategy, said Henry, to focus on testing people in active health investigations, cluster outbreaks, health care workers and people in hospital, which is how health officials can determine how the virus spreads in the community.

“We don’t need to test people who have very mild illness and are isolating from others,” she said. “That allows us to prioritize the cases where we see transmission.”

People who may have travelled but are asymptomatic also don't need to be tested, said Henry, but do need to self-isolate for 14 days. 

Henry also dissuaded British Columbians from panic buying, which has been seen at a number of stores across the Lower Mainland and Canada in recent days. 

PrinceGeorgeMatters will continue to update a running list of postponements and cancellations in Prince George as they progress.

Live press conference ongoing. More to come.

- with files from Kirsten Clarke, Richmond News