Tuesday, 3 Oct 2023

B.C. ‘will be tested’ as Washington state COVID-19 outbreak spreads: provincial health minister

Health Minister Adrian Dix says British Columbia “will be tested in the coming weeks” as an outbreak of COVID-19 across the border in Washington state grows.

As of Monday, six people had died of the virus in Washington, where a state of emergency is in effect.

“We have profound connections … both individual and family and community and business with Washington state. Obviously our hearts go out to them,” said Dix.

“It’s why we’ve been testing so many people in British Columbia, it’s in order to track down, to isolate, to slow down the impact here in B.C.”

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA) officers are trained as quarantine officers, and will be screening travellers at the land borders.

“There’s not a formal process like we have for people who are coming in from Iran or whatever, but it is a program where there’s enhanced awareness and messaging,” she said.

That process for screening travellers from Iran is also being enhanced, Henry said. Like passengers from China, asymptomatic travellers arriving from Iran will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days, while travellers showing symptoms could be quarantined she said.

Henry went on to say that despite the growing outbreak across the border in Washington, B.C. remains focused on containment and is confident the virus is not being transmitted person to person in the province.

“They have some cases now that have arisen in the community where they do not yet know where the link is, how they became infected, that’s a challenging situation to be in,” Henry said.

“There’s not widespread community transmission in Washington state, and certainly not here in B.C. and we’re confident in that.”

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