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Lab tech who found B.C.’s 1st case of COVID-19 recalls ‘sheer terror’ of discovery

In the early days of the pandemic, Rebecca Hickman would carefully watch each sample being tested for the novel coronavirus in her lab at the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

“I was so afraid of getting a positive,” the public health laboratory technologist told CBC this week.

That meant she was paying close attention as the first test came back positive at about 3:30 p.m. on Jan. 27, 2020.

“I actually started to see it get positive within a few seconds,” Hickman recalled. “My first feeling was sheer terror, from a personal point of view.”

The co-designer of B.C.’s test, medical laboratory technologist Tracy Lee, was in a meeting as the results were coming in. She remembers getting a call from Hickman and rushing to the lab to watch the test complete.

Lee felt “both fear and relief” as the test came back positive — fear for what this meant for the people of B.C., but relief that the test was working as planned.

Hickman shared those mixed emotions.

“To design, validate and implement a molecular laboratory test usually takes months if not years, and so to do that in the span of days is a huge achievement,” Hickman said.

There was also some excitement. She said she “felt like I was a part of something huge.”

Hickman spent the rest of that first afternoon sequencing a portion of the genome from the positive sample, and by midnight the lab had confirmed it was SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19.


B.C. CDC laboratory technologists Tracy Lee and Rebecca Hickman worked together to design the initial COVID-19 test to detect the virus in B.C. It is still being used today. (Michael Donoghue/BCCDC)

It had been a 16-hour workday.

“I went home and slept for five hours, then came back,” she recalls.

The next day, British Columbians watched as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry confirmed the inevitable. The virus was here in B.C.

“This is the first time in my life I’ve ever found things out before I read it in the news,” Hickman said.

‘Instability and craziness’

A year later, B.C. has confirmed 66,779 cases of the novel coronavirus and 1,189 people have died.

Hickman has gone from anxiously checking the totals after the daily afternoon update from health officials to barely noticing as B.C. records hundreds of cases each day. She says COVID fatigue is real.

There have been difficult times, like in the spring when lab supplies and personal protective equipment began to run out.

“The instability and craziness of it all has been the hardest part,” Hickman said.

Watch: Rebecca Hickman recalls finding B.C.’s first case of COVID-19

Rebecca Hickman was just nine months into her new job at the B.C. Centre for Disease Control when she confirmed B.C.’s first case of the novel coronavirus. 1:11

Today, much of her time is spent doing whole genome sequencing for about 15 to 20 per cent of COVID-19 cases.

That work helps health officials track the new, more infectious variants that have popped up in different parts of the world. It’s also used for outbreak response — scientists can determine how the virus is spreading through a community or health-care facility and whether cases are being introduced from new sources.

Hickman was just nine months into her job at the B.C. CDC when she discovered the first case.

She said she’s proud to have played a part in such a major moment in history.

“It has been easily the most difficult year of my life but also the most fulfilling. What we have achieved here over the last year is huge,” Hickman said.

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Pregnant Khloe Kardashian Poses in Sheer Bra for Sexy New Photo Shoot — But Where's Her Baby Bump?

Khloe Kardashian hasn’t stopped working just yet.

On Monday, the 33-year-old reality star — who is expecting her first child with NBA pro Tristan Thompson — shared an image from a latest photo shoot for her Good American brand, which has her sporting a sexy sheer bra that she pairs with a high ponytail and colored contacts.

“Shooting for Good American today with my Good Squad,” Khloe captioned the photo along with the hashtag “GoodMama.”

The lingerie-clad shot does not, however, show off Khloe’s baby bump, as she’s only pictured from the chest up.

The mom-to-be did share a flashback photo with her Instagram followers that showcased her and Kylie Jenner’s growing bellies, following news that her younger sister had given birth to a baby girl last week. 

“Congratulations My Sweet Kylie! What a magical ride it’s been! I’ll miss you bumping along with me,” Khloe wrote. “Never in a million years did I think we would do this together but it’s been that much more special because of it. God is so great!! He had His plan all along! I love you little mama ? love big mama.”

On Monday night, ET exclusively chatted with Kris Jenner about Kylie and Kim Kardashian West welcoming newborn daughters weeks apart from one another. 

“It just doesn’t get any better than this,” the 62-year-old momager gushed. “Life is really good right now and it’s all about the kids and the family and just keeping everybody happy and healthy.”

Check out more of our interview with Kris:

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Rita Ora’s Bathrobe to Demi Lovato’s Sheer Pants: See the Top 5 Craziest Looks at the MTV EMAs: Pics!

Demi Lovato

After wowing in her cleavage-baring plaid red carpet style, the 25-year-old pop singer slayed on the stage, singing her hit songs “Sorry Not Sorry” and “Tell Me You Love Me.” For the powerful performances, the former Disney star wore a belted black top and shimmery sheer pants that left little to the imagination. #SNS

Prior to her awards show appearance, ET spoke exclusively with Lovato about her love life and more. Check it out:

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Ashley Graham Steps Out In Sheer Sequined Dress That Leaves Little to the Imagination — See the Sexy Look!

Now this is how you sparkle on a red carpet!

Ashley Graham stepped out for Harper’s Bazaar’s 2017 Women of the Year Awards, presented in association with Ralph & Russo, Audemars Piguet and Mercedes-Benz, in London, England, on Thursday, leaving little to the imagination in a completely sheer black T-shirt dress.

The LBD featured white sequins over the chest and darker gray ones around her waist and hemline. She paired the number with black peep-toe pumps, but the see-through material put most of the attention on her black bra and panty set.

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Kourtney Kardashian Rocks Sheer Top & Mini Skirt While Kim Kardashian Slays in Body-Hugging Ensemble: Pics!

Kourtney Kardashian is serving up major sass!

The 38-year-old reality star was spotted out and about in Los Angeles on Wednesday, turning heads in a seriously sexy ensemble.

The mother of three wore a high-neck sheer top over a lacy bra, which she paired with a black mini skirt, stylish shades and knee-high booties.

She completed the look by keeping her tresses pulled back into a chic ponytail.

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Bella Hadid Celebrates 21st Birthday in Lace-Up LBD With Sister Gigi Hadid in a Sheer Corset Top: Pics

Gigi also took to Instagram Stories to share snippets of their night of family fun following her loving message to Bella.

“There are no words for how much I love you. You know I’ve been trying to protect u from the world since day one, and 21 years later u comfort and inspire me more than you’ll ever know,” she wrote. 

Earlier in the day, Bella shared a sexy video montage of herself, including a shot of her in a G-string, writing, “I was born 21 years ago.” 

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EXCLUSIVE: Mel B Goes Sexy in Sheer 'Superhero' Bodysuit, Gets Candid About Her Dating Life on 'AGT'

Playing EXCLUSIVE: Mel B Goes Sexy in Sheer ‘Superhero’ Bodysuit, Gets Candid About Her Dating Life on ‘AGT’

Single Spice! Mel B’s dating life was front and center during Tuesday’s live shows on America’s Got Talent. The 42-year-old former Spice Girl gushed, “I am so happy to be single right now,” during the show, and it showed in her sexy outfit choice for the evening.

WATCH: ‘America’s Got Talent’: 10-Year-Old Angelica Hale’s Epic Cover of ‘Clarity’ Brings Judge Mel B to Tears

Mel rocked a sheer bodysuit with blue rhinestone detailing and opened up to ET’s Denny Directo after the show about her racy ensemble.

Photo: Getty Images

“I’ve kind of dived into a bit of see through stuff before, but today I was feeling the blue superhero vibes,” she dished. “I’m like a girly girl. I like to do dress up.”

And though the former Spice Girl admitted that having her dating life discussed on the televised show was “kind of embarrassing,” she still had fun with it.

“Well, you’ve got to. It’s a great show, great panel, great contestants. Yeah, it’s all good,” she said.

Scary Spice wasn’t afraid to let her emotions show, especially when 10-year-old Angelica Hale belted out a moving rendition of Zedd’s “Clarity.”

“It’s like a roller coaster ride,” Mel said. “This show, it’s live, and I’m the kind of person whatever I feel just comes out. That’s why I say, ‘I’m not going to cry’ even though I’m probably crying at the time that I’m saying it. People’s live can change doing this show and they’re putting their heart and soul out there.”

WATCH: ‘America’s Got Talent’: Singing Ventriloquist Darci Lynne Farmer Returns With Amazing Cover of Jackson 5 Hit

When pressed on what her connection to the song is, Mel quipped, “I’m not telling you! It’s ‘cause it has to do with sex,” later adding that she was “joking!”

For more from America’s Got Talent, watch the clip below!

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Kourtney Kardashian Rocks Completely Sheer Blouse and Mesh Bra: Pic!

Kourtney Kardashian has no problem flaunting her enviable physique.

The 38-year-old reality star turned heads in Los Angeles on Monday, sporting a sheer black blouse and a mesh bra underneath. Kourtney paired the daring top with ripped jeans and black heels, looking picture perfect leaving the studio after filming for Keeping Up With the Kardashians.

Photo: Backgrid

WATCH: EXCLUSIVE: Scott Disick Having ‘Hard Time’ Watching Kourtney Kardashian Move On With New Guy

Kourtney is back from her recent vacation in Nantucket, Massachusetts, with her children and a few of her gal-pals, though the the mother of three’s mind appears to still be in vacation mode. On Monday, she Instagrammed another bikini pic on the beach, writing, “Nantucket, I love you.”

WATCH: Kourtney Kardashian Shares Details on Her 24-Hour Fasting Regimen and Detox Plan

Earlier this month, Kourtney once again sizzled while spending quality time with her new boyfriend, Younes Bendjima, in St. Tropez, rocking a sheer bodysuit and unbuttoned jean cut-offs.

Watch below:

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