Pastor Norm Sowden, from the Mill Bay Baptist Fellowship Church, left on a mission to Thailand last month. Sowden is reported to be in hospital there with coronavirus. (File photo)

UPDATE: Cowichan Valley pastor tests negative for coronavirus in Thailand

Norm Sowden on missionary trip to Asian country

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.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Garden tools stolen from Cairnsmore Place in Duncan

Thieves steal $600 worth of tools

Editorial: New childcare spaces a step in the right direction

It has been a banner year for parents in the Cowichan Valley looking for childcare.

After more than 2 weeks, still no sign of Ethan Sampson of Duncan

Still no sign of 28-year-old Cowichan Tribes man

Chemainus woman sets a new standard for 106-year-olds

Active lifestyle includes a trip to Scotland in the works for May

VIDEO: 7 things you need to know about the 2020 B.C. budget

Surplus of $227 million with big spending on infrastructure and capital projects

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say they’ll meet with ministers if RCMP get out

Federal minister in charge of Indigenous relations has proposed a meeting to diffuse blockades

Trees Cannabis director fined $1.5M for selling marijuana

Fine follows provincial crackdown on popular dispensary

World Cup skier from Okanagan dies suddenly at 19

Kuroda, who made his World Cup debut earlier this year, passed away suddenly Monday night.

Coastal GasLink pipeline investor committed to closing deal despite protests

Developer TC Energy Corp. — formerly TransCanada Corp. — is to remain the operator of the $6.6-billion pipeline

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

What’s in a name? The story of Revelstoke’s Mt. Begbie

It’s likely the iconic peak had several Indigenous peoples’ names before settlers arrived

Budget 2020: B.C. Liberals blast ‘Netflix tax,’ lack of economic plan

ICBC rates still go up, except in election year, Shirley Bond says

Maggie and Tim: A residential school survivor and her son who died on B.C. streets

Part one of a two-part series on a young man’s tragic death and his mother’s survival through hardship

Most Read