VANCOUVER — A fifth case of the novel coronavirus has been presumptively confirmed in British Columbia, bringing the total number of cases in Canada to eight.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Friday a woman in her 30s returned from Shanghai, China, in the past week through Vancouver’s airport before travelling by car to her home in the Interior Health region, which includes the Okanagan.
Henry said the woman wore a mask on the plane and contacted health officials when she had symptoms of an illness before being tested positive Tuesday for the virus that the World Health Organization has named COVID-19.
“We are very grateful and thankful that the people who are coming back from Hubei province and all over China are taking the advice seriously to self-monitor and to connect with us and make sure that they can be tested, assessed and cared for safely,” she said.
The woman is in isolation at home, as are her close contacts, Henry said, adding that in all cases a further test will be conducted at a national lab in Winnipeg to confirm the results obtained provincially.
Officials will be contacting passengers who sat three rows ahead of and behind the woman on the aircraft that arrived from China, but the risk to them is “very, very low,” she said.
The first person to be tested for the virus in the province is recovering well and has tested negative in the first of two tests that would indicate the virus no longer exists and isolation is no longer required, she said.
Henry said 715 tests have been done on about 500 people returning from China based on a low threshold for testing of the virus that originated in Hubei province.
Three cases of the virus have also been confirmed in Ontario.
The coronavirus has infected almost 67,000 people globally with more than 1,500 deaths in China.
B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said the province has done more testing than any other jurisdiction.
Earlier Friday, Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said health workers from Canada are assisting in Japan after 12 Canadians contracted the virus aboard a cruise ship.
Champagne says three members of the Public Health Agency of Canada and two medical personnel from the Canadian Armed Forces have been sent to Yokohama, the Japanese port city where the Diamond Princess has been docked since last week.
Some 3,500 passengers on the ship are under quarantine and 218 people have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Champagne says the Japanese government will allow some elderly people to complete the rest of their quarantine period at another facility off the ship.
Meanwhile, Champagne says consular officials are assisting in Cambodia, where another ship with 279 Canadians on board was recently allowed to dock after being rejected from multiple other countries over fears of the new coronavirus.
There have been no reported cases of the virus on board the Westerdam, and Champagne says officials will help Canadians with the p