COVID-19: B.C. Centre for Disease Control now accepts virus can linger in the air

Until now, the BCCDC had stated the disease spreads only through large droplets

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The B.C. Centre for Disease Control has changed its definition of COVID-19 spread, confirming the virus can be transferred by tiny aerosolized droplets and not just large droplets that fall quickly to the ground.

On Tuesday, the BCCDC updated its website, stating “COVID-19 spreads from a person with COVID-19 to others through smaller droplets known as aerosols.”

Until now, the BCCDC had stated the disease spreads only through large droplets.

That means the threat of catching COVID-19 isn’t only from large, virus-laden droplets that fall to the ground, but from small particles that can linger in the air for hours, building up in poorly ventilated indoor spaces, while quickly dispersing outdoors.

Therefore the size of an indoor space, how many people are in it, the length of exposure and air circulation all factor into how easily viral particles might spread.

The BCCDC states the risk of transmission of the disease by touching surfaces is very low.

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On Tuesday, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry reported 697 new cases of COVID-19 in B.C. and one death. Henry said there were 7,161 active cases of the disease, of which 486 were being treated in hospital including 173 in intensive care.

She said one person had died, bringing that tally to 1,597. The bulk of all new cases are occurring in the Fraser Health region, specifically Surrey.

Parts of northwest Surrey including Whalley and Newton had an average of 40 COVID-19 cases a day for every 100,0000 people, more than double the rate of most other areas of Metro Vancouver. In Whalley and Newton, more than 20 per cent of COVID-19 tests were positive, compared to 11 per cent for the whole province.

Henry said 1,817,918 British Columbians have received at least one dose of vaccine, as the province’s seven-day average daily case count and active cases continue to fall.

Meanwhile, pregnant women are now being given priority for the COVID-19 vaccine in B.C.

B.C. follows Ontario and Quebec, which moved pregnant women up the vaccine priority list because of increased risk of severe illness linked to COVID-19.

“All Health Canada-approved vaccines are safe and effective, and I encourage everyone to register and receive their vaccine as soon as they are eligible. Today, this includes people who are pregnant,” the provincial health officer, Henry said.

— with files from Katie DeRosa and Bloomberg

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