A 69-year-old Kelowna woman went grocery shopping and mingled at her apartment building two days last week without knowing she had COVID-19.
The woman returned March 15 via Vancouver International Airport from a two-month trip to the Philippines to visit her brother.
March 15 was a transition day at the Vancouver airport and passengers arriving from other countries might not have been told to go into 14-day voluntary quarantine in an effort to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.
According to her niece, the woman returned to Kelowna and went about her business for a couple of days before a relative told her she should be self-isolating.
On Friday, the woman went to Kelowna General Hospital with pain associated to her irritable bowel syndrome.
At the hospital, she also started to have difficulty breathing, one of the symptoms of COVID-19, and was tested for the disease.
While awaiting results, her condition worsened and she was intubated, heavily sedated and put on a ventilator in the intensive care unit to help her breathe.
The test came back positive for COVID-19 and the woman is expected to remain on the ventilator for the next five days.
Doctors have told her family she’ll have to fight for her life, she might get worse before she gets better and the family should prepare for the worst, if it happens.
The woman’s niece, Amber Hall of West Kelowna, posted the plight of her aunt on her Facebook page on Sunday as a warning for people to take coronavirus precautions seriously.
She posted it as a shareable post so as many people as possible could see it as an example of the severity of the virus.
Hall received some “rude and horrible messages” linked to her aunt not knowing she was supposed to go into 14-day quarantine.
The name of the aunt has not been revealed to protect her identity and prevent more harsh comments from coming her way.
The Interior Health Authority was notified of the situation and the authority in turn notified the man the woman had come into contact with at the apartment building where they both live in Kelowna.
The man has been tested for COVID-19 since and shows no symptoms of the disease.
Hall notified by email Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola Conservative MP Dan Albas, Kelowna West Liberal MLA Ben Stewart, West Kelowna Mayor Gord Milsom and Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran.
Stewart responded right away and checked into the situation for Hall.
“Interior Health was very responsive and reviewed this coronavirus case following all the protocols of the B.C. Centre for Disease Control,” said Stewart.
“Not all the details are being released for reasons of medical privacy, but Interior Health has stated there’s no wider concern in the Kelowna area because of this case. We all get anxious when it’s a loved one who is involved, but we can be satisfied all protocols were followed here.”
The woman’s travelling companion felt symptomatic shortly after arrival in Vancouver, self-isolated in Vancouver and has since also tested positive for COVID-19.
Interior Health doesn’t specify how many COVID-19 cases there are in individual communities in its coverage area of the Southern Interior.
On Tuesday, Interior Health confirmed 41 people in the region had been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, up from 30 on Monday.
As of Tuesday, there are 617 COVID-19 cases in B.C., an addition of 145 from Monday.
The number of deaths in B.C. remained unchanged at 13.
Of the 617 with the disease, 173 have recovered so far and can come out of quarantine.
Many with the disease can recover at home in quarantine.
However, 59 people with the disease are currently in hospital, 23 in intensive care.