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

COVID-19: Daily update on the pandemic in Surrey, White Rock, Delta and beyond

MARCH 28: Delta council passes bylaw to fine people who don’t socially distance

White Rock council members stand by decision to close pier

Minimal push-back over closure to minimize chance of spreading COVID-19 virus

Surrey’s JoJo Mason brings mom along for Saturday song during Diesel Bird Digital Music Festival

Online event March 28-29 to rally behind Canadian musicians hit by COVID-19 show cancellations

VIDEO: ‘Hands, washing hands’: Surrey teachers sing ‘Sweet Caroline’ with COVID-19 lesson

Staff at Fleetwood Park Secondary are featured in video posted to Youtube on Friday

B.C. veterinarians want to smooth the fur of COVID-19-worried pet owners

Vets expect to continue giving your fur buddies the help they need while social distancing

B.C. VIEWS: Small businesses need our help

Just as integral in neighbourhoods in Vancouver and Surrey as they are in Prince George or Kelowna

‘Tremendous’ response from blood donors has supply keeping pace with demand

About 400,000 of Canada’s 37 million residents give blood on a regular basis

Morning world update: Cases surge past 600,000; positive news in Germany

Spain suffers its deadliest day as Germany considers April 20 to possibly loosen restrictions

VIDEO: Penguins roam empty halls of Vancouver Aquarium

COVID-19 has forced the Vancouver Aquarium to close access to guests – leaving room for its residents

Significant snowfall forecast for Interior mountain passes

Allison Pass, the Okanagan Connector, Rogers Pass and Kootenay Pass could see 15 to 25 cm of snow

Kids get back to learning in B.C., online

Ministry of Education rolls out new tool for school

Most Read