Test results for the Fort St. John student suspected of having the novel coronavirus have come back negative.
North Peace Secondary Principal Randy Pauls confirmed the good news, and says the student will be welcomed back to classes Thursday after a brief period of self-isolation.
There had been much public concern after the student fell ill with allergy and cold-like symptoms last Friday after returning from a school trip to Japan. The student went to the hospital to be tested before self-isolating out of an abundance of caution.
In an email update to staff Wednesday afternoon, Pauls said Northern Health has confirmed the student tested negative for the virus, also known as COVID-19.
School staff were calm and professional, and students respectful and understanding in dealing with the situation, Pauls wrote.
“Many parents shared their concerns and asked great questions through phone calls and emails. The vast majority of people were respectful,” Pauls wrote. "Thanks to all for helping us navigate through a stressful time.”
A group of 12 students from North Peace, the ELC, and the college had travelled to Japan as part of a cultural exchange field trip.
Superintendent Stephen Petrucci said the trip went ahead as planned as the travel risk to Japan was listed low at Level 1 when it began. The risk has since been elevated to Level 2.
“The district will approach all future travel cautiously and follow the best medical and government travel information available,” Petrucci said.
“We will make informed decisions as opposed to reactionary ones. Northern Health will continue to be the lead on this evolving issue."
The student, as well as their family and peers, were unfairly targeted by social media rumours and fear mongering as they awaited their test results, Petrucci said.
The outbreak of COVID-19 began at the end of 2019 in China, where thousands of cases have been reported.
The virus can cause mild symptoms including cough and fever. It can also become more severe for some people and lead to pneumonia or breathing difficulties.
Provincial health officials have announced five new coronavirus cases in B.C. in the last two days, most related to travel in Iran, and bringing the total number of people infected to 13 in the province.
The latest case, announced Wednesday afternoon, is a woman in her 80s in critical condition and in isolation at Vancouver General Hospital. She had recently travelled to India and Hong Kong.
The majority of the 34 confirmed cases in Canada so far are in Ontario, where there are 20 confirmed cases. There is one confirmed case in Quebec.
This is a developing story.
— with files from The Canadian Press
Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at email@example.com.