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B.C. to track the origin and spread of COVID-19 with ‘genomic technology’ (Dr. Richard Harrigan, BCCDC)

Coronavirus (Photo credit: Vancouver Is Awesome)

The BC Centre for Disease Control’s (BCCDC) Public Health Laboratory has announced a new pilot project that will enable researchers to identify and track new cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in British Columbia.

On Feb. 20, Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry reported that a sixth case of the novel coronavirus had been diagnosed in B.C. after a woman in her 30s returned to the province this week from travel in Iran. However, she added that the woman’s presumptive case is relatively mild and a number of her close contacts have already been put in isolation.

Leading the team for the pilot project is BCCDC Public Health Laboratory Medical Director Dr. Mel Krajden, one of the investigators from the first team in the world to produce the complete sequence of the SARS virus genome. The team is co-led by UBC faculty Dr. Richard Harrigan, a scientist with decades of experience performing translational HIV studies based on genomics, and Dr. Natalie Prystajecky, a microbiologist overseeing the COVID- 19 test development at the BCCDC.

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