Three administrative staff members of Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver have tested positive for COVID-19, according to Vancouver Coastal Health, bringing the total number of cases connected directly or indirectly to North Shore health care facilities to 17 in total.
None of the people identified at LGH had contact with hospital patients, said Dr. Bonnie Henry, chief medical health officer for the province. All three are self-isolating at home and are recovering, according to a statement released by health officials.
Health officers are investigating how those people picked up the virus and are following up with staff who may have had close contact with those people.
As of Friday, Lions Gate Hospital began restricting visitor access to family members of patients only and will be posting signs to notify staff, patients and visitors to the hospital.
Some walk-in patients will be contacted ahead of their appointments for symptom screening, according to the health authority.
Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said British Columbia is also preparing to ramp up testing for COVID-19 at additional sites if needed.
On Friday, temporary tents appeared to be erected outside the 15th Street entrance to Lions Gate Hospital.
Dix said he planned to announce more about the extra testing sites in the coming days.
But he warned when those testing sites open, they will be for people who have been referred by doctors or other health-care practitioners.
Henry added there is no need for or value to being tested unless a person has symptoms of illness.
Also on Friday, Henry announced an additional case of coronavirus has also been identified in connection with the outbreak at the Lynn Valley Care Centre – in a person who is a close contact of one of the six care workers there who has already tested positive.
That’s also in addition to three cases of the virus confirmed Thursday in connection with a second long-term care home – Hollyburn House in West Vancouver. Those cases include a resident in his 90s and two care workers.
Henry said the spread of the coronavirus between the two facilities highlights some of the issues in long-term care, where workers frequently work at more than one care facility.
Tracking how the virus was spread between the two North Shore facilities is a key focus of investigation, although no conclusions have been reached yet.
Altogether there have now been 17 cases of coronavirus linked to outbreaks at the three health-care facilities – the hospital and the two long-term care homes – on the North Shore.
Henry said provincewide there have been 11 more positive tests in the past day, bringing the total number of cases in B.C. to 64.
Five of the latest cases are connected to people returning from international travel to Iran, Egypt, the Philippines and Mexico.
Henry said while it’s important to be prudent, coronavirus is still not spreading widely in the community yet.
Scientific data coming back from other countries where the outbreak has been more severe has shown asymptomatic spread of the virus “is tiny,” said Henry. “It’s not what is driving this outbreak around the world.”
To fight the spread of the virus, on Thursday, Henry ordered all gatherings over 250 people to be cancelled.
She also advised British Columbians not to travel outside of Canada, which includes travel to the U.S.
People who do choose to travel, including to the United States, will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return to Canada, staying away from work and school.
Editor’s note:The latest information on coronavirus disease is available on the B.C. Centre for Disease Control and Vancouver Coastal Health websites. Detailed information including travel advice is on the federal government’s website. If you have questions and concerns about COVID-19, please get your information from a trusted source. Spreading rumours and misinformation on social media or in conversation could impact lives.