VANCOUVER — A small outbreak of COVID-19 continues at a long-term care facility in North Vancouver as officials announced that two more health-care workers have tested positive for the virus.
Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, announced the infections among seven new cases Tuesday, bringing the provincial total to 39.
In addition to the two health-care workers infected, three cases are related to travel and two are community cases because they had no known contact with another confirmed case.
"It is these community cases that give us some degree of concern and grief," Henry told a news conference in Vancouver.
"But being able to detect them is really important, because as soon as we detect them, we can start that detailed investigation to determine where they might have come in contact and it helps us uncover where other chains of transmission are in our community."
The new cases bring the total linked to the Lynn Valley Care Centre to eight, including two family members or close contacts of a health-care worker.
The first health-care worker diagnosed at the seniors home was also the province's first community case and Henry said she is in stable condition but has been admitted to hospital for monitoring.
Henry said a woman in her 80s who was recently admitted to an intensive care unit in critical condition with the virus has been released from hospital.
The three travel-related cases announced Tuesday include a woman in her 60s who was on a tour in Egypt that included a cruise on the Nile River. A close contact of hers who was also on the tour is being tested and "may well" test positive, Henry said.
Ontario and Quebec have a number of cases related to tours in Egypt and B.C. is working with its federal counterparts to determine whether the infections are related, she added.
Another travel-related case is a man in his 40s who recently returned from Germany while the other is a man in his 90s who was aboard the Grand Princess cruise that returned on Feb. 21. All three are in the Vancouver area.
The two new community cases are both in the region covered by Fraser Health and involve a man in his 90s who is in hospital and a man in his 40s who is in isolation at home.
Health Minister Adrian Dix said B.C.'s cases include 16 linked to travel to Iran, one to Hong Kong and India, one to Washington state, three to the Grand Princess cruise, one to Italy and one to Germany.
Testing has increased dramatically this week and there are now five sites around the province where testing can be done, Dix said.
"We continue to do the most testing of any jurisdiction in the country. I think that's significant. The reason we're doing it is because of a strong effort to continue to contain the virus in British Columbia," he said.
Premier John Horgan told the Surrey Board of Trade on Tuesday that the virus will affect the economy in the short-term.
"We have seen two of the worst forest fire seasons. On top of that we have what is now a pandemic and we have extraordinary challenges within the markets around the world," he said.
"But planning and preparing is key to success."
Public health institutions in the province are well placed to cope with the novel coronavirus, having learned lessons from the SARS outbreak in 2003 and the H1N1 pandemic in 2009, he said.
With an open economy and a diverse population, Horgan said the number of cases of COVID-19 in the province is not surprising and is expected to grow.
Horgan credited Finance Minister Carole James with building "lots of prudence" into the budget in case contingencies are needed, adding that "forecasting is an inexact science on a good day but when you have the prospects of a pandemic its extremely difficult."
Anita Huberman, chief executive officer of the Surrey Board of Trade, said the economic impact from COVID-19 is already being felt and small businesses have the greatest risk because they don't have the resources available to their larger counterparts.
"We're observing," she added. "The worry is not severe. We're just worried."
— With files from Hina Alam in Surrey, B.C.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 10, 2020.
Laura Kane, The Canadian Press