VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Canadian officials on Saturday declared an outbreak of the new coronavirus at a long-term care home in North Vancouver after health officials said two elderly residents were diagnosed with the illness.
Dr. Bonnie Henry, the British Columbia provincial health officer, said the two new cases follow an earlier confirmation of COVID-19 in a care worker at the Lynn Valley Care Centre.
The care home is now in an outbreak protocol, which restricts visitors and enhances health and safety measures.
"We know that the risk to elderly people having this disease is very concerning, particularly older people with underlying chronic illnesses," Henry said.
She said a total of six new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in British Columbia.
"The last two cases really are the most concerning to us," she told reporters, pausing at length at one point to wipe tears from her eyes.
"The message that I think is so important for British Columbians today is that you need to stay home if you're sick," Henry said. "We are in an extraordinary situation. We need everybody to be aware, to look after your children."
Henry categorized the two most recent cases as community transmission, distinct from imported cases when a traveler contracts the illness abroad before returning home.
At least 57 people in Canada have the virus. British Columbia said Friday that it had activated a pandemics co-ordination plan to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak and was prepared to escalate the response if needed.
Canadian health officials are also asking people to avoid cruise ship travel after a cruise ship carrying 237 Canadians reported 21 confirmed cases of the new virus.
The Tim Hortons coffee-and-doughnut chain, meanwhile, said it was cancelling its upcoming Roll Up The Rim contest. The company said it is removing all of the contest's paper cups over health concerns around staff handling items recently gripped and sipped by customers returning them for prizes,