EDMONTON — Alberta announced its first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus Sunday, along with more presumptive cases, officially making it the fourth province to be dealing with COVID-19.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's medical officer of health, said the confirmed case is a man in his 40s from the Edmonton area. Although he recently travelled to several U.S. states, Hinshaw said the source of the infection is more likely to have been a travel companion who had previously been a passenger on the Grand Princess cruise ship.
The companion is now a confirmed case in British Columbia.
That cruise ship is heading to a California port with 237 Canadians still on board. Two passengers and 19 crew members have tested positive for the virus, but their nationalities haven't been disclosed.
Ottawa announced Sunday it would charter a plane to bring the Canadian passengers to the military base at Trenton, after which they'd be assessed and quarantined for two weeks.
In Alberta, Hinshaw announced that one of two previously presumptive cases has now been confirmed, and that there are two more presumptive cases.
"This marks four cases in four days," Hinshaw said. "For many, this might be alarming. I want to underline that three of these four cases are linked to a single cruise ship."
Both of the new presumptive cases are travel-related, she said.
"Health officials are reaching out to all individuals who may have been in close contact with them."
Hinshaw said all four patients are now in self-isolation. None have been hospitalized and all are expected to make a full recovery.
At least 62 people in Canada have COVID-19, with 27 confirmed cases in B.C., 32 in Ontario, two in Quebec and one in Alberta.
Ontario's chief medical officer of health announced three new cases Sunday — a woman in her 40s who had returned from a trip to Colorado on March 2, a woman in her 60s who was in France until March 2 and went to hospital on Saturday, and a man in his 60s who was in Washington, D.C., until March 3.
And late Sunday night, Peel Public Health announced a fourth new case in the province — a man in his 50s who recently returned from Germany.
Quebec's health department said Sunday it has another presumptive case, in the Monteregie region southeast of Montreal in a person who returned from a cruise. That province is now dealing with two presumptive cases in addition to its two confirmed cases. Cases are treated as presumptive until the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg can run more tests to confirm the results.
Meanwhile, Grand Princess cruise ship with Canadians on board is now headed to the port of Oakland, Calif. In a ship-board address Saturday night, Capt. John Smith said the vessel would likely dock Sunday afternoon and that people needing "acute medical treatment" would be taken to health-care facilities in California.
Smith said other guests would be taken to federally operated isolation sites or transported out of California, however, he noted that he had been not given any specific information about non-U.S. citizens.
The ship has more than 3,500 people aboard and has been idling off the coast of San Francisco for the several days, waiting for clearance to dock.
Canadian health officials are now advising people to avoid cruise ship travel in light of the situation aboard the Grand Princess and other cruise ships recently plagued by COVID-19 outbreaks.
In British Columbia, officials declared an outbreak of the novel coronavirus at a North Vancouver long-term care home on Saturday, saying two elderly residents were recently diagnosed with the virus along with four others in the province.
Chief provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the two cases followed an earlier diagnosis of a care worker at the Lynn Valley Care Centre, making them especially concerning as examples of community transmission.
The care home is now following an outbreak protocol that restricts visitors and imposes "infection control precautions" on all staff interactions at the facility.
A growing list of events are being cancelled in Canada and around the world in anticipation of fewer people travelling to and from infected areas.
The women's world hockey championship slated to begin this month in Halifax and Truro, N.S., the 2020 Arctic Winter Games in Whitehorse, and the South by Southwest Conference and Festival in Austin, Texas, have all been cancelled to prevent the spread of the virus.
And on Saturday Tim Hortons got rid of the cups for its annual "Roll Up the Rim" contest, saying "the current public health environment" means "it's not the right time for team members...to collect rolled up tabs that have been in people's mouths."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 8, 2020.
— With files from Salmaan Farooqui, Stephane Blais, Ugo Giguere and The Associated Press.
Bob Weber, The Canadian Press