Health officials in B.C. have confirmed Canada’s first death from the 2019 novel coronavirus.
The patient, an elderly male in his 80s with “a number of underlying health conditions,” was a resident at the Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver — a long-term care facility that has seen a number of other cases of COVID-19 in the first instance of community transmission in the province.
His illness was reported on March 7, and he died the following day.
B.C. Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix announced the fatality at a press conference Monday afternoon, adding that the province now has 32 confirmed cases of the virus, including two new ones at the Lynn Valley home.
Canada as a whole is, at the time of publication, up to 77 cases of the communicable disease: 32 in B.C., 34 in Ontario, seven in Alberta and four in Quebec.
The federal and provincial governments are continuing to assure the public that the risk to Canadians remains low at this time.
Dr. Henry advised anybody who displays any kind of symptoms of respiratory illness — especially those who have recently travelled — to stay away from others, before making the usual recommendations of frequent hand-washing and coughing into sleeves for all Canadians.
“Right now, we want everybody to stay home if they’re sick,” she said.
Henry and Dix also asked that anyone who finds themselves sick enough to require medical attention during self-isolation call their local hospital ahead of time to allow staff to adequately prepare for their arrival.
There have now been more than 111,000 cases of COVID-19 in 97 countries worldwide, with more than half of those cases already recovered.
Nearly 4,000 people have died from the sickness — most of them elderly and/or immunocompromised, and 80 per cent of them in China — which has a mortality rate of around 3.4 per cent.