A Vancouver city staffer who shared a cruise ship with a passenger later found to have COVID-19 does not have the virus, the city announced Tuesday evening.
The City Hall employee, who is not being identified, was tested after finding out last week that the cruise ship they had disembarked from 13 days previously may have been contaminated. They were one of about 2,500 passengers on the ship.
The staffer was immediately sent home. A cleaning crew sanitized the employee’s work area later that day, as well as common areas of City Hall and high-touch areas, such as door handles and elevator buttons.
COVID-19 is a novel infectious disease and member of the coronavirus family.
Though the Vancouver city employee tested negative, one other case was confirmed in Clark County on Friday. An additional 17 tests in the county were pending as of Tuesday afternoon. Six tests total have returned negative.
Trip to sister city canceled
City councilors additionally canceled a scheduled trip to Vancouver’s sister city, Joyo, Japan, due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The group — consisting of Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle, Councilors Ty Stober and Linda Glover, and policy director Jan Bader — was scheduled to depart next week. The trip was meant to overlap with a 25th anniversary celebration on March 20 that would recognize the beginning of the sister city relationship in 1995.
Japan has canceled schools for the entire month, and the federal government is urging cancellations of any large group gatherings. That policy effectively canceled the anniversary celebration, as well as a planned visit to a college, Kyoto Women’s University.
“They were unable to host any of the events we had planned,” said Jill Brown, assistant to the city manager.
The airlines refunded the tickets for the trip, McEnerny-Ogle confirmed at the council workshop on Monday. She added that the city council would be able to use the freed-up time to look more closely at the Stronger Vancouver package, which is on track to pass the city council before the end of spring.
“Since we’re not headed to our sister city for their 25th anniversary reunion, we have that opportunity to dive a little deeper,” McEnerny-Ogle said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is advising older people and those with chronic health conditions to avoid visiting Japan, which now has a Level 2 travel health notice. As of Monday, the World Health Organization reports that 488 people in Japan have tested positive for COVID-19.