The number of positive test results for the novel coronavirus continues to increase in British Columbia.
There are now 27 cases, including six new ones, according to Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.
Two of the new cases were passengers on the Grand Princess cruise ship from February 11 to 21—a man and woman in their 60s.
They're undergoing treatment in a Fraser Region hospital.
Two others are residents of the Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver.
It's a long-term care facility where a staff member had previously been diagnosed. None of these three have a travel history that would have put them in contact with larger populations with the disease.
“All residents of this facility have now been screened and Vancouver Coastal teams are on site to support the families and continue to investigate in detail," Dix and Henry said in a joint statement. "Public health teams have notified facility staff and residents, and are meeting with their families."
The other two new cases involve a man who returned from Iran and a close household contact. They're also in the Fraser Health Region.
A woman who tested positive earlier has been upgraded from critical to stable condition in Vancouver General Hospital.
“There has been a notable transmission of COVID-19 at events, such as religious gatherings," Dix and Henry said. "As a result, we recommend social distancing and forgoing usual greetings. As an alternative, we recommend considering virtual online gatherings."
Dix told reporters that one of the reasons why he and Dr. Henry have been so regular in their reports is because he expects that the province will be dealing with this in the weeks and months to come.
"This is relevant to everyone's health in British Columbia," Dix said.
"If anyone thinks it's the right thing to do if you're sick to visit family members who are seniors, to visit care homes, to visit hospitals, let's disabuse people of that," the health minister added.
He also said that when he and Dr. Henry repeat that people should wash their hands, not touch their face, and stay home when they're sick, it's because there may be people who have not heard that message.
"I personally think the media has done an excellent job in covering this," Dix commented. "We need to focus on the science. The science builds the confidence we need to have."
Dix himself has Type 1 diabetes, which is an autoimmune disease that kills insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. This compromised immune system could leave him in a more vulnerable position should he ever have the misfortune to contract COVID-19.
On March 6, Dix and Henry were joined by Premier John Horgan at a news conference to announce the province's pandemic plan, which include increasing cross-government coordination, the use of emergency powers, and protecting and supporting vulnerable populations and healthcare workers.