UPDATE: The test results for coronavirus for Mill Bay Baptist Fellowship Church Pastor Norm Sowden have come back negative.
It appears he has contracted a strain of the H1N1 flu virus, the most common flu virus that circulates each year.
Sowden was hospitalized in Koh Samui, Thailand, after he began to showing symptoms of the flu.
Pastor Dave Stirling said it’s unknown at this time when Sowden will be returning to the Cowichan Valley.
Pastor Norm Sowden, from the Mill Bay Baptist Fellowship Church, is reported to be in hospital in Thailand being tested for coronavirus.
But while the church’s other pastor, Dave Stirling, who is also a medical doctor, acknowledged that Sowden is in hospital in the Asian country with a respiratory illness, he has doubts whether Sowden has the coronavirus that is causing widespread fear throughout the world.
Coronavirus, which started in China where thousands of cases have been diagnosed, with hundreds of deaths, has recently been declared a public health emergency of international concern by the World Health Organization.
The disease has spread to at least 23 other countries, including Thailand, which has reported 25 confirmed cases of coronavirus so far, and Canada, which has four confirmed cases.
Stirling said he’s aware that social media is full of speculation about Sowden’s condition and whether he has coronavirus, but he said he doesn’t think so.
“Norm does have a virus and is in poor condition right now, but my sense is that he took it with him to Thailand,” Stirling said.
“He had a respiratory infection before he left, and I think it has gotten worse since he got to Thailand [in early January]. I asked him before he left if he should go if he was sick, but he said he had already bought the plane ticket.”
Sowden left for Thailand along with church member Charles Lukas last month as part of the church’s ongoing efforts to bring a Christian Pakistani family to the Cowichan Valley.
Sowden and Lukas, who is reported not to be sick, were scheduled to fly back to Canada this week, but Stirling said their travelling plans are now up in the air.
“It’s still early days, but it’s possible that Norm could be sent to Trenton, Ontario, [which is being prepared for Canadians with coronavirus returning from China and other countries] when he is released from hospital in Thailand,” Stirling said.
“If that happens, Norm will be fully tested there for coronavirus. I don’t mean to be disparaging of my colleagues in Thailand, but my experience in many locations overseas is that their skill sets are somewhat less than our own.”