Vancouver Coastal Health said Friday it had confirmed two new cases of measles in the city along with new exposures within Metro Vancouver, appearing to signal the local outbreak of the virus is growing.
The possible exposures have been identified at multiple locations in Vancouver, Richmond, Squamish, Whistler and Steveston, all linked to one of those cases.
The new cases bring the total number of confirmed cases in over the past two weeks to 10.
“We know there’s a risk of [the disease] spreading,” VCH medical health officer Dr. Althea Hayden said during a public update Friday. “Anyone who has not yet been vaccinated or is at great risk of exposure is being urged to do so immediately.”
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One of the new cases confirmed Friday has been linked to one of the three Francophone schools where eight other cases were confirmed earlier this month. The other case has not yet been linked to an exposure source, and VCH has launched an investigation.
Hayden released a list of public areas within Metro Vancouver where that case may have travelled last weekend, and where more people may have been exposed:
Canada Line, all stations southbound from Broadway City Hall Station to Langara 49th Station, Vancouver – Feb. 15, 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.Russel Sean Fitness, Richmond – Feb. 15, 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.Langara College Tech Building, Vancouver – Feb. 15, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.Sport Chek, Richmond Centre – Feb. 15, 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.Starbucks, No. 1 Road and Bayview, Richmond – Feb. 17, 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.Dave’s Fish and Chips, Steveston – Feb. 17, 1 p.m. to 3:45 p.m.McDonald’s, Squamish – Feb. 18, 9:45 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.Scandinave Spa, Whistler – Feb. 18, 11 a.m. to 7:15 p.m.
Anyone who was in any of the listed locations at the identified times is being urged to get vaccinated immediately. VCH said there’s no reason to close any of these businesses or warn the public to stay away, but added all employees have been notified and urged to get vaccinated.
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Hayden admitted it’s possible VCH has not yet identified all the sources of exposure, but added the list of locations came from detailed conversations with the patient.
In a statement, Langara College said its students, faculty and staff have been contacted by VCH and the college is working to “ensure the well-being of our campus community.”
Since the cases at the schools were confirmed, at least 36 students and staff members have been kept home from two of those schools because they either had not been vaccinated or could not provide proof of vaccination, VCH said Tuesday.
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Hayden said another confirmed case, which dates back to earlier in February, is not related to the current outbreak of measles cases confirmed this month. That case brings the total of measles cases confirmed across the Lower Mainland in 2019 to 11.
Fraser Health has also confirmed it treated one case of measles in January involving an adult that had contracted the virus overseas.
In addition, VCH said Tuesday between 400 and 500 children at BC Children’s Hospital may have been exposed to the disease, though noted many of those children have been vaccinated and are immune.
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VCH said Friday the measles vaccination stock is high, with no fears of a shortage in the Lower Mainland.
Clinics have been set up in all the affected locations across the region this weekend to ensure any affected people can get vaccinated while keeping that population spread out:
Raven Song Community Health Centre, 2450 Ontario St. (Saturday only, will decide Monday if continuing to offer)London Drugs, 710 Granville St.London Drugs, 525 West BroadwayCity Centre Urgent Care Centre, 1290 Hornby Street
Shoppers Drug Mart, 11800 Cambie Rd.Shoppers Drug Mart, 6060 Minoru Blvd.Shoppers Drug Mart, 5555 Gilbert Rd.Richmond Central Medical, 150-7997 Westminster Hwy. (Saturday only)Terra Nova Medical Clinic, 6011 No. 1 Rd.
London DrugsShoppers Drug MartLoblawsNesters PharmacySquamish Community Health (1 p.m. to 4 p.m. only)
Nesters PharmacyShoppers Drug MartRexall MarketplaceRexall Village SquareWhistler Community Health Centre
A recent poll from Angus Reid Institute showed a majority of Canadians support making vaccinations mandatory to attend school.
— With files from Jon Azpiri and Simon Little