Update: B.C. coronavirus cases spike to 21

Worried health officials trying to track down source of new case, as it's not connected to travel

The number of COVID-19 cases have started to increase substantially in the past few days | BC Centre for Disease Control

There are eight new cases of coronavirus in B.C. and a total of 21.

The first four of the new cases are household contacts of a case revealed last week. All of them “developed symptoms while in isolation,” said Bonnie Henry, B.C.'s provincial health officer.

They are in their 20s, 30s, 50s and 60s respectively and all live in the Fraser Health Region, she said.

The other four news cases are not connected to any previous cases of coronavirus (COVID-19), she said.

Two of them are from the Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) region and had just returned from Iran. They are in their 50s and 60s and live in the same house.

The seventh new case is a resident from Seattle who was visiting family in the Fraser Health Region, which is a massive area that stretches between Burnaby, White Rock and Hope. 

“We’re trying to determine where her exposure came from,” said Henry.

The last new case is the one that’s concerning Henry and her medical team the most, as it comes from a “community transmission,” meaning it wasn’t due to travel and they can’t find the source.

“This was picked up while [she] was being tested for the flu,” she said.

“There is a detailed investigation. This person hadn’t recently travelled so that is something we’re paying attention to.”

Asked at Thursday's media conference, why the community-transmitted case was concerning health officials so much, Henry said it's because they haven't been able to trace the source, as of yet.

"She hasn't travelled. Where did she pick it up? It's likely at least one other person is out there who has [COVID-19] and we need to track them down."

The last new case lives in the VCH region, which includes cities such as Vancouver and Richmond.

All of the new cases are in self-isolation at home.

When asked if she had any more advice for anyone thinking of travelling during spring break, Henry urged people to check the Canadian government's website.

"People should understand the risk and know [their] own tolerance" for getting sick or being quarantined, she added.

"I would have a low tolerance for lots of international travel [just now]."

B.C. announced on Wednesday that its 13th case of COVID-19 was a woman in her 80s, who is in critical condition.

The woman recently returned after a tour of India and Hong Kong and is in isolation in the intensive care unit at Vancouver General Hospital. 

"She has severe illness and is isolation at (VGH)," Henry said Wednesday.

The woman has underlying health conditions.

Henry said the woman arrived home last week, and anyone who was in close contact with her is in self-isolation for 14 days and will be monitored for symptoms.

"She was not ill during travel. There is only one close contact and they both stayed pretty close to home [on their return]," said Henry.

On Tuesday, there were four new cases of coronavirus in B.C., taking the total that day to 12.

By Thursday afternoon, 98,078 around the world have been confirmed, at some point, as having COVID-19. The virus has caused 3,356 deaths, mostly in China, where the disease originated late last year.

Of all of those confirmed cases, 54,140 people have recovered.

As well as China, several countries are giving the World Health Organization (WHO) cause for concern, including South Korea and Iran, where the virus appears to be spreading the fastest.

– This story originally appeared on Glacier Media's Richmond News website. To read the story there, click here.