With less than a month until schools reopen, a coalition of doctors, nurses, health scientists and advocates for pupils and teachers is warning the NDP government about a repeat of the so-called “tripledemic.”
“In short, we are on track for a rinse-and-repeat of last year,” Protect Our Province B.C. (PoP BC) said in a Tuesday open letter to Premier David Eby, Health Minister Adrian Dix and Education Minister Rachna Singh.
Last August, PoP BC sounded the alarm about a coming triple whammy of influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and another COVID-19 wave. Eventually, six children in the province died and emergency rooms were jammed throughout winter.
“Currently in B.C., we have no mask protections in schools, no proof of indoor air quality in schools including monitoring of carbon dioxide levels during full class occupancy, no [high-efficiency particulate air] filtration units available in most classrooms, almost non-existent [nucleic acid] testing, and only the occasional provincial public health report (and those reports we do see are of limited value),” the open letter said.
PoP BC said it fears parents will send infected children to school and make things worse, leading to mass-absenteeism and another round of emergency room delays. They point to a new “summer wave” of COVID-19 in parts of the U.S., new variants spreading in Japan and the U.K., as well as a bellwether rise in respiratory illness during the southern hemisphere’s winter.
PoP BC proposed a five-point plan: Improved ventilation and air cleaning; a return of mask mandates in schools; admitting COVID-19 is airborne and can hang in the air for hours, like cigarette smoke; dipping into the federal stockpile of 39 million rapid antigen tests and distributing them widely; and early vaccination of children and families against COVID-19.
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