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Health experts launch B.C. COVID briefings out of ‘growing concern’ with government response

Protect Our Province B.C. aims to highlight the best available science to combat COVID
B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the province’s COVID-19 vaccine program, May 10, 2021. (B.C. government)

A new group of doctors, scientists and healthcare professionals has begun hosting their own COVID-19 briefings out of a “growing concern” that B.C.’s pandemic response is falling short.

Protect Our Province B.C. held its first briefing Wednesday (Oct. 20) to review the science of aerosol transmission. The group convened a panel of experts to explain that COVID-19 is predominantly spread through airborne particles and encouraged the province to address the issue.

“In order to protect people in B.C. against COVID-19 as an airborne pathogen, we need to enact several measures: effective ventilation and air purification; the wide-spread use of well-fitting high-quality masks; easy-to-access rapid testing; as well as effective contact tracing, and exposure notifications. All of these proposals respond to the fundamental challenge of COVID-19: aerosol transmission,” Protect Our Province said in a news release.

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To date, much of the guidelines from the province have focused on reducing direct contact transmission, or the spread of COVID through droplets. However, the experts agree that the guidelines do little to address aerosol transmission.

Dr. Victor Leung, an infectious diseases physician and medical microbiologist, shared that aerosols can be present in the area within and beyond the recommended one metre of social distancing and can remain for several hours, unlike droplets which travel less than one metre and fall to the ground in under five seconds.

“Mode of transmission is fundamental to knowing where to allocate our resources to,” Leung said. “Our ability to be prepared now will help us in the long run so we don’t make the same mistakes in dealing with any new emerging respiratory viruses.”

Dr. Karina Zeidler, a family physician and steering committee member with Protect Our Province, said the group was inspired by Protect Our Province Alberta, which was formed in response to the Alberta provincial government’s handling of COVID-19.

“We want this pandemic to be over, we’re just not there yet. We’re in the midst of our fourth wave and if we compare where we’re at now to last year, we have six times more hospitalizations, eight times more ICU admissions and 11 times more deaths.”

RELATED: B.C. records 5 more COVID-19 deaths, 560 new cases Tuesday

Protect Our Province B.C. will be hosting another briefing on Wednesday, Oct. 27 at noon. Briefings will be available on the group’s YouTube page.


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