COVID-19 Q&A: Part 5

More of Your COVID-19 Questions Answered | Dr. Ali Ghahary

It has been seven months since the first case of COVID-19 was announced in British Columbia. Since then, our province has seen a total of 4,358 cases of the virus, with over 500 hospitalizations and 196 deaths; while 3,533 people previously diagnosed with COVID-19 have fully recovered. While there are still many things we don’t know about the virus, we are learning new things about it every day – particularly as the weeks and months go on.

Below you will find some of the most commonly asked questions that British Columbians have about COVID-19 and summer.

“I’ve heard COVID-19 isn’t as prominent of a virus in warmer weather. Is this true?”
Early on, health researchers wondered if COVID-19 may be a seasonal virus like other viruses, such as the common cold or influenza. However, there has been nothing to indicate this and no proof that heat or humidity kills off the virus or makes one less likely to develop it.

“What’s causing British Columbia’s COVID cases to spike again?”
For several weeks, we saw a decreased number of new cases of COVID-19, ranging from 10 to 20 new cases announced per day. However, in more recent weeks, the number of new reported cases per day have risen to approximately 80. As our province slowly reopened, cases were expected to rise somewhat; however, this latest spike in cases has also been linked to larger gatherings, which is something that our health officials have strongly advocated against as these can turn into “super spreader” events, ultimately leading to an even higher number of infections.

“What Age Groups Are Most Impacted by COVID-19?”
In earlier months, many of the cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed in people over the age of 60, while deaths related to the virus were linked to the elderly – specifically those in long-term care. Now, however, younger adults – particularly those in their 20s and 30s – are accounting for a large share of the newly reported cases of COVID-19. While younger adults tend to develop less severe symptoms associated with the virus, that doesn’t mean that this is the case for everyone, as it can still be deadly – especially if someone diagnosed with the virus has a pre-existing medical condition that puts them at greater risk of contracting COVID-19 in the first place.

As we’re right in the middle of summer, we’re unfortunately seeing more and more young people congregating in large groups and having parties. This is problematic, as many of the time you do not know everyone who you are associating with, where they’ve been, and whether or not they themselves already have the virus, which puts you at great risk of contracting it. We also have to keep in mind that when younger people contract the virus, the risk of them passing it on to a family member, such as a parent or grandparent, is also higher – even if they have mild symptoms or are all together asymptomatic.

“What does it mean when health officials say we should keep our social bubbles small?”
To keep your social bubbles small means that you can have face to face contact with friends; however, you should keep the group of people you connect with in person as small as possible, and they should be the same people every time. In British Columbia, gatherings are currently limited to no greater than 50 people; however, even then, keeping a safe social distance is next to impossible, which is why we need to be very careful. When you do get together with a small group of friends, you should try to have that gathering outdoors and still maintain at least 2 metres of distance between each other. While it may seem strange to have that kind of distance between you at first, it’s important that we do this to stay safe.

“Can COVID-19 be transmitted through food?”
There have been no indications that COVID-19 is transmitted through the food we eat. However, it can be transmitted through the sharing of things like plates, utensils, cups, etc., so you should avoid sharing these things with others and stick to using your own.

“How often should I be washing my hands and disinfecting high-touch surface areas?”
The short answer is as much as possible. When it comes to washing our hands, we should do this as frequently as we can – especially after sneezing, coughing, or blowing our nose, as well as after having been out in public, or while at work. Hands should be washed with warm soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

As for disinfecting, the same rules apply, and things like counter tops, desks, computer mice, keyboards, telephones, filing cabinets and printers should all be disinfected regularly. If you share any of these things with other people (in an office setting, for example), then they should be disinfected after each use.