Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix provide update on COVID-19 at the B.C. legislature. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

VIDEO: B.C. records first COVID-19 death in Canada as province hits 32 cases

Two more imported cases to B.C. from Iran and Italy

B.C.’s first fatality from the COVID-19 coronavirus was a patient at a North Vancouver care home, as the provincial total number of cases has risen to 32.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Monday that one of the residents of Lynn Valley Care Centre has died, as the number of infected people grows since a staff member tested positive for the new strain that has spread around the world. A second B.C. health care worker has also tested positive, and is in isolation at home the Fraser health region.

The deceased is a man in his 80s with a number of underlying health conditions. The other resident of the care home is a woman her 70s, who is in stable condition.

B.C. has identified two cases of “community transmission” so far, the health care worker at North Vancouver and a woman visiting from Seattle, where community cases have been the most commonly identified in North America. There have been no identified cases in northern B.C. or Vancouver Island as of Monday.

Another two positive tests from people returning from overseas travel have also been recorded. One returned from Iran, where the outbreak has been traced to half of the B.C. cases so far. The other returned from Italy, the first such transmission in B.C., and both are in isolation at home in the Vancouver Coastal health region.

Henry said people who are feeling ill, even with a cold, should stay home or keep their children at home until they feel better. The possibility of school closures is being considered, but there is a concern that students may congregate in other areas, without the supervision they would have at school, she said. Cleaning and hand washing is being stepped up at schools.

Henry repeated her advice to people not to travel on cruise ships, as U.S. officials dealt with an outbreak on the Grand Princess off San Francisco. The ship has 21 people diagnosed with COVID-19 on board, among 3,500 people from 54 countries. Global Affairs Canada is preparing to screen and isolate the 237 Canadians on board for at least the 14-day incubation period of the virus.

Cases confirmed by testing at the B.C. Centre for Disease Control have begun coming in larger groups in the past week, as international officials monitor a possible pandemic where travel and other restrictions no longer contain it.

Henry announced Saturday that six new B.C. cases included two residents of the Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver, identified after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19. A woman in her 50s, the staff member has no recent travel history.

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