British Columbia’s top doctor says that there have yet to be any COVID-19 cases linked to Vancouver’s anti-racism protests.
A number of demonstrations were held in the city over the past six weeks. One event was a massive gathering at the Vancouver Art Gallery to demand justice after the killing of George Floyd; another was an anti-racism protest at Canada Place.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says that “currently, we do not have any cases that have been associated with the protests that took place.”
“I think there are a number of reasons for that,” she told reporters on Monday.
Henry suggested that it is likely a combination of being outside, spending shorter periods of time next to people, and many of the participants wearing masks and having kept their distance.
“Those things can help,” Henry added. “I think that particularly, the outside nature of them makes a big difference.”
She noted that her colleagues in the United States “also have not seen surges” related to protests and reminded that health officials “follow up every single case” in the province.
- See also:
While the protests have yet to be linked to any coronavirus cases, Henry stressed that large group gatherings can still be concerning, especially within party-like environments.
She noted that where her American colleagues have seen outside transmission “is large groups going to parties and events on the beaches, for example.”
“There’s something inherently different about what you’re doing with a group of people partying on the beach, versus what we’ve been seeing with some of these protests. Many of us thought it would be a similar risk.”
Henry added she believes it’s because the conditions for spreading the virus include “spending a lot of time in close contact, face to face with somebody.”
“You’re not likely to get infected by someone walking past you on the street, even somebody running past you on the street if they happen to be infected,” she continued.
“It’s when you’re spending time with people, when you are sharing food and drink with people, when you’re partying, dancing, laughing, kissing, hugging,” Henry stressed. “Those are the situations where you’re much more likely to spread droplets between people.”