Protecting privacy key to stopping spread of COVID-19, B.C. health officials say

The number of coronavirus cases in B.C. remains at seven

Protecting the privacy of COVID-19 patients while stopping the spread of the virus is a key focus for health officials, authorities told reporters during an update on Tuesday.

There are currently seven patients with the new coronavirus in B.C.. As the cases have been announced, officials have not given out any specific location data beyond the health authority area in which they are located. The first patient has now fully recovered.

VIDEO: B.C.’s seventh coronavirus patient at home in Fraser Health region

“You may hear, or have heard, from social media alleged personal details about people involved,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix. “I just ask people to exercise discretion and good judgment.”

Dix said if people think their information will be released to the public when they come forward for testing, it will be that much harder for healthcare workers to identify coronavirus cases. So far, the province has conducted more than 1,000 tests on around 700 people – more, Dix said, than have been done in the entire U.S.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, the province’s top doctor, fielded questions about a letter sent out to two school districts about possible COVID-19 contact. Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows and the Tri-Cities received a letter on Friday that said contacts of the sixth presumptive coronavirus patient, identified in the Fraser Health region, “may have attended school in the region and are currently self-isolating.”

Henry said it was not possible for the health authority to provide more details.

“When you target a specific school, or one or two schools, perhaps it makes it much easier to identify the individuals,” she said.

“It’s unfortunate, but that school would be targeted. Those individuals would be targeted… and that would discourage anyone else from contacting us or trusting us.”

READ MORE: Fraser Health warns Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows schools of possible COVID-19 exposure

The COVID-19 virus is also not spread the same way as the measles, and so does not require the same notifications. Henry said the measles lasts “a long time” in the air, and so warnings are more vital.

Henry said the people from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which saw a rash of COVID-19 infections, are returning to B.C.

People who came in from Wuhan, China, the epicentre of the COVID-19 outbreak, have been in isolation at CFB Trenton in Ontario, but have been cleared and show no signs of the virus.

For people worried about getting the coronavirus, Henry said the usual cold and flu season measures, like washing your hands and coughing into the elbow, remain the most helpful.

Correction: An earlier version of this story said all seven coronavirus patients had been in the Lower Mainland. Some cases have been identified in interior B.C.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

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

Just Posted

VIDEO: A message from Mission’s mayor

Pam Alexis asks residents to support local businesses, stay strong during COVID-19 pandemic

Mission developers donate $10,000, challenge others to donate as well

Gary Toor and Jason Tiegen gve the money to Mission Community Services, hope to raise $20,000

You can design a new banner for Mission’s downtown area

Mission Downtown Business Association is presenting its second annual banner design competition

One woman arrested in Abbotsford on Sunday after stabbing

25-year-old man sent to hospital with serious injuries following incident

B.C. firefighters only responding to most life-threatening calls during COVID-19 pandemic

The directive comes after province spoke with paramedics, fire services, according to top doctor

COVID-19: 4 new deaths, 25 new cases but only in Vancouver Coastal, Fraser Health

A total of 1,291 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus

COVID-19: Don’t get away for Easter weekend, Dr. Bonnie Henry warns

John Horgan, Adrian Dix call 130 faith leaders as holidays approach

COVID-19: Trudeau says 30K ventilators on the way; 3.6M Canadians claim benefits

Canada has seen more than 17,000 cases and at least 345 deaths due to COVID-19

RCMP call on kids to name latest foal recruits

The baby horses names are to start with the letter ‘S’

As Canadians return home amid pandemic, border crossings dip to just 5% of usual traffic

Non-commercial land crossing dipped by 95%, air travel dropped by 96 per cent, according to the CBSA

Logan Boulet Effect: Green Shirt Day calls on Canadians to become organ donors

While social distancing, the day also honours the 16 lives lost in the 2018 Humboldt Broncos Crash

COMMENTARY: Knowing where COVID-19 cases are does not protect you

Dr. Bonnie Henry explains why B.C. withholds community names

B.C. wide burning restrictions come into effect April 16

‘Larger open burns pose an unnecessary risk and could detract from wildfire detection’

Most Read