Dr. Bonnie Henry says virus transmission not visible from protests

Protests not linked to virus

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced Monday there is no apparent link between transmission of the COVID-19 virus and recent public protests.

Henry says she has heard from healthcare colleagues in the United States that they have not seen any surges in active virus cases related to the protests, and neither has British Columbia. 

"The short answer is no," Henry said during Monday's press conference.

"Currently we do not have any cases that have been associated with the protests that took place. I think there’s a number of reasons for that ... it is likely a combination of them mostly being outside, being shorter periods next to people perhaps, many people at least here in B.C. keeping distances, wearing masks and those things can help. Particularly the outside nature of them makes a big difference."

However, she was quick to point out not all outdoor gatherings are safe or should be encouraged.

For example, large parties or events on beaches in the U.S. have been proven to easily transmit the virus between people in those settings.

There's something "inherently different" about what is happening with a group of people partying on a beach in comparison with a protest, says Henry.

"That was surprising. I think many of us thought that it would be a similar risk.

"Close contact over a continuous period of time in a closed environment are the ways that we know this is more likely to be transmitted ... you’re not likely to get infected by someone walking past on the street. Even someone running past you on the street, if they happen to be infected - those are not the environments where we’re going to see this being transmitted.

"It’s when you’re spending time with people, when you’re sharing food and drinks with people, when you’re partying, dancing, laughing, kissing, hugging - those are the situations when you’re much more likely to spread droplets between people."

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