B.C. making preparations to tackle coronavirus now present in 39 countries

VICTORIA — British Columbia's provincial health officer says plans are in the works to expand the province's battle against the novel coronavirus, which has been diagnosed in seven people.

Dr. Bonnie Henry said Tuesday the World Health Organization has not listed the outbreak as a pandemic, but the situation is changing, with confirmed cases in 39 countries.

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Among the seven people in B.C. with COVID-19, five are doing well and have either recovered or are near recovery, she said. The other two people with COVID-19 are listed as stable in isolation at their home.

Henry said the seventh case is a man in his 40s who is a close contact of the sixth case, a woman in her 30s whose diagnosis was confirmed last week after returning from Iran.

In the coming days, Henry said B.C. will ramp up its public awareness campaign reminding people about measures to fight COVID-19, including staying home from work or school and not attending mass gatherings if they are sick.

The plan will also stress vigilance by international travellers who may be sick upon arriving in Canada.

"We are thinking about what is different if we move to having widespread transmission in countries around the world, having widespread transmission of this in Canada and here in B.C.," said Henry. "We are making plans with our health-care system and with our partners across government."

Henry said the elderly would be most at risk of contracting the novel coronavirus if it starts to spread.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Feb. 25, 2020.

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