By Fran Yanor, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Premier John Horgan

The best approach to stay healthy in the face of COVID-19 is to be careful but calm, said B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix.

“I think we have to continue to be prudent — to be prudent when we make decisions to travel — to be prepared,” said Dix. “But to be serene in our approach so that we support one another when we need to be supported.”

Dix suggested people take similar precautions regarding COVID-19 as they do with the flu.

COVID-19 is the specific respiratory virus also known as the coronavirus. It is a new strain not previously identified and can be transmitted between humans and animals.

The virus becomes airborne in saliva droplets from a cough or sneeze. Highly contagious, it is usually spread when a person touches a contaminated surface, then touches their own eyes, nose or mouth. It commonly appears in five days, but can take up to 14 days after contact for a person to feel sick. Symptoms include fever, cough and difficulty breathing.

“Just like if someone in your home was sick with the flu or anything else, it’s important to have food and medication available,” he said, especially the most vulnerable, such as people with chronic diseases, the elderly and the very young. If sick, people should stay home from work and school, and avoid visiting long-term care facilities or hospitals.

Preparing beyond that is a personal choice. “I don’t think there is any need to hoard goods,” the Health Minister said.

Health Minister Adrian Dix

Each health authority has an emergency operation centre specifically devoted to dealing with the COVID-19. To date, there are no known cases of the virus in the Northern Health region. While four staff members at the Jasper

Park Lodge are in self-quarantine after one person showed symptoms, none have tested positive to COVID-19. The voluntary quarantine is a precautionary measure.

“All of our health authorities are preparing equally and fully evolved, including the First Nations Health Authority, whose activities are fully integrated with ours,” said Dix.

As of press time, 32 people have tested positive to COVID-19 in British Columbia. Of those, three people are in hospital, the others are self-isolated at home. One man in his 80s who was living in a long-term care facility in North Vancouver, has died of coronavirus in the province.

Alberta has four confirmed cases of coronavirus.

Tips to keep healthy:

Handshakes are the latest casualty of COVID-19.
Hands are a key disease vector. Even a fist bump can transmit the virus, according to the World Health Organization website.
If handshakes and fist-bumps have become irresponsible, how should people greet each other?
“As a politician, it’s instinctive,” said Premier John Horgan. “You can’t walk outside without raising your hand. Well, we’re not doing that anymore.”
Horgan said elbow bumping will be his new norm.
“I met with Chief Perry Bellegarde today,” said Horgan. Bellegarde is National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations. “We hit elbows and I think that’s how I will spend the rest of my spring, is bumping elbows with people.”

Tips on how prevent the spread of CIVID-19:

  • Wash your hands with soap for 20 seconds;
  • Wash after contact with others, and following contact with anybody’s bodily fluids;
  • Leave a personal space bubble of one metre to avoid any airborne virus droplets;
  • Avoid contact with people who are unwell or who show symptoms of the illness;
  • Wear a mask if you have a cough or runny nose;
  • When sneezing or coughing, cover your mouth with a tissue or cough into your sleeve;
  • Disinfect surfaces, the virus can survive for hours to days depending on the circumstances;
  • Do not share drinks, food or utensils;
  • Get medical attention if you develop symptoms.

If you feel symptoms:

  • Stay home;
  • Avoid contact with people who have vulnerable immune systems;
  • Seek a medical professional as soon as possible.

World Health Organization (WHO) also advises people to avoid international travel if possible.
B.C. Ministry of Health asks anyone who has recently returned from China or Iran to self-isolate for 14 days from the day they left either country.
Sources: WHO and B.C. Ministry of Health