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B.C. government released its first statement on COVID-19 a year ago

adrian dix and bonnie henry
Health Minister Adrian Dix and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry giving one of their first updates on the COVID-19 pandemic in January 2020.

It was a simpler time one year ago. British Columbians were blissfully unaware of terms like “social distancing,” "flattening the curve," and "speaking moistly."

While it may seem like a lifetime ago, the COVID-19 pandemic, then known as just a “novel coronavirus,” was only just on the B.C. government's radar exactly one year ago.

On Jan. 21, 2020, Health Minister Adrian Dix and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry released their first statement about a “respiratory illness linked to a novel coronavirus.” It would be the first of many.

“The risk to British Columbians is considered low,” the joint statement said. “Most cases have been reported in Wuhan and other cities in China. But cases have also been reported outside of China, including Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and Thailand. Today, the United States Centre for Disease Control confirmed a case was detected in a Washington State resident who recently returned from travel to Wuhan.”

Dix and Dr. Henry said they were “closely monitoring the situation,” and had implemented screening protocols at Vancouver International Airport for people travelling from overseas, while the Richmond Hospital was preparing to handle COVID-positive people who might arrive in B.C.

“To date, there have been no cases of illness caused by the coronavirus in British Columbia or elsewhere in Canada,” they said.

That would change quickly. Just four days later, the first COVID-19 case in Canada was found in Ontario, and three days after that, the virus reared its ugly head in B.C.

Over the following year, 62,412 British Columbians have tested positive for the virus, and more than 1,100 have died. Worldwide, close to 100 million people have contracted the disease, and more than 2 million people have died.