B.C. eyes on coronavirus in Wash., state after deaths; premier, governor speak

Medical staff wearing protective suits check documents as they wait for people with suspected symptoms of the new coronavirus, at a testing facility in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, March 4, 2020. The coronavirus epidemic shifted increasingly westward toward the Middle East, Europe and the United States on Tuesday, with governments taking emergency steps to ease shortages of masks and other supplies for front-line doctors and nurses. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

VICTORIA  Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says British Columbia is monitoring the deaths of six people from novel coronavirus in Washington state and there is no evidence of widespread transmission of the virus.

Henry says the six deaths are connected to two counties in the Seattle area.

She says that leads her to believe an uncontrolled spread is not underway.

Henry says Canadians who have recently travelled across the border into Washington state do not need to contact public health officials unless they feel sick.

But she advises Canadians to postpone any travel if they have flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough and muscle aches.

She says travellers returning to B.C. from international trips can expect extra screening by Canadian Border Services officials who will be asking about their health.

“There is not widespread community transmission in Washington state and certainly there is not here in B.C., and we’re confident of that,” Henry said Monday at a news conference.

“My colleagues in Washington state are working very hard to try and track down everybody who’s been in contact with people who’ve been affected in the United States.”

Henry says B.C. currently has eight confirmed cases of novel coronavirus, with four cases recovered and the others in isolation at home.

She says travellers returning to B.C. from Iran will now face increased questions at customs and immigration points at airports about their health.

Last month, a B.C. woman in her 30s who travelled to Iran was diagnosed with novel coronavirus shortly after her return to Canada.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said Premier John Horgan and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee spoke Monday by telephone about the coronavirus, each pledging support for the neighbouring jurisdictions.