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

No more ferries will sail from Departure Bay, Mill Bay, Brentwood Bay during COVID-19 pandemic

B.C. Ferries announces major changes to sailing schedules for 60 days starting Saturday, April 4

Suspect arrested after allegedly setting house fire in Cedar

Firefighters arrived to find mobile home ablaze on Barnes Road on Thursday

CVRD cancels all recreation and theatre programs through end of April

Community centre and recreation programs cancelled through end of April

Ladysmith Rotary Club donates 2,000 gloves to Ladysmith Health Centre

Due to a typo, the Rotary Club ended up with 3,500 gloves. Enough to last them 10 years

VIDEO: How doctors in Canada will decide who lives and dies if pandemic worsens

Officials in several provinces have been developing guides so that doctors don’t feel alone

Ongoing list of Ladysmith COVID-19 cancellations and closures

Everything in Ladysmith that has been impacted by COVID-19

Nanaimo’s Harmac mill works to fill doubled pulp order for medical masks and gowns

Mill’s president says extra cleaning in place and workers are social distancing

Two people fined after B.C. police spot online ads re-selling 5,000 surgical, N95 masks

Police confiscated the masks, being sold at inflated prices, and now working with Fraser Health

Sex workers face new risks during COVID-19 pandemic

‘Desperation has kicked in’ for vulnerable, undocumented workers unable to access help

Unclear if Cowichan couple refusing to self-isolate will face penalty

No fines or charges have been laid to date, including Cowichan couple who won’t self isolate

COVID-19: Postponed surgeries will be done, B.C. health minister says

Contract with private surgical clinic to help clear backlog

Most Read