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

CVRD cancels all recreation and theatre programs through end of April

Community centre and recreation programs cancelled through end of April

Cowichan couple won’t self-isolate after returning from overseas

New law requires 14 days of self-isolation when returning to Canada

Archer takes on new challenges at BC Winter Games

That thrilling shoot-off resulted in one of Whitworth’s two medals

VIDEO: ‘Used gloves and masks go in the garbage,’ says irked B.C. mayor

Health officials have said single-use gloves won’t do much to curb the spread of COVID-19

List of cancelled Cowichan Valley community events

An ongoing list of events that have been cancelled in the Cowichan Valley due to COVID-19

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

Contract with private surgical clinic to help clear backlog

Black Press Media ad sparks discussion about value of community newspapers

White Rock resident hopes front-page note shines light on revenue loss during COVID-19 crisis

53 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., four new deaths

B.C. has 498 active confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus

Nanaimo man arrested after allegedly setting house fire

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

Don’t stop going to the doctor, just do it virtually: B.C. association

Doctors encourage patients to access telephone, online visits

Businesses advised to prepare for federal, B.C. COVID-19 assistance

Canada Revenue Agency portal expected to open next week

Dogs are property, not kids, B.C. judge tells former couple

Court decision made on competing lawsuits over Zeus and Aurora — a pit bull and pit bull cross

Most Read