As B.C. flattens curve, think carefully about expanding social circle: Henry

Coronavirus outbreak: Dr. Bonnie Henry on how to safely expand social circles
As physical distancing rules begin to change in other jurisdictions, B.C.'s top doctor Bonnie Henry makes suggestions when asked at a press briefing for how people can begin to connect with small groups of friends in a safe manner.

As B.C. continues to flatten the curve in the novel coronavirus pandemic, B.C.’s top doctor wants the public to think long and hard about how they might safely expand their social circle.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Thursday that she is still asking people to maintain social distancing, and only go out with their household group, despite fewer new confirmed cases being reported each day in B.C.

Coronavirus outbreak: Dr. Bonnie Henry on 100 days landmark of virus warning in B.C.
Coronavirus outbreak: Dr. Bonnie Henry on 100 days landmark of virus warning in B.C.

If and when measures are relaxed, British Columbians need to carefully consider how to only slightly expand their social circle, with an emphasis on what she calls the basics: washing hands regularly and maintaining a safe distance from others.

“We’re not going to be having indoor parties this coming summer, but we can look at how we can safely have more contact and more people in our lives to have those circles slightly bigger,” she said.

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“We need to be thoughtful about it because the more groups and people that we have connections with, the more chances are that we might transmit this virus.”

Everyone needs to assess their own level of risk, she added, noting that households with a person who is at-risk or immunocompromised need to continue to take extra precautions.

A glimmer of hope in the COVID-19 lockdown
A glimmer of hope in the COVID-19 lockdown

“So if there’s somebody in my family that’s going through cancer treatment, for example, I’m not going to expand my circle very much because I will need to protect them.”

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And people who have been working from home need to plan a possible return to the office very carefully, she said.

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“It may be that our children are going to stay with the grandparents, so we need to be cautious then because we’ve now increased our circle that might affect people who are elder in our community.”

Henry is planning on outlining specifics on how many connections you can have once the restrictions are eased.

Earlier this week, she emphasized that the province could look at doing so as early as mid-May since most of COVID-19 cases in B.C. are linked to known outbreaks, mainly at long-term care facilities.

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Premier John Horgan will be speaking more about the province’s pandemic plan in the coming days.

B.C. has now recorded 111 deaths and 2,112 cases — about 62 per cent of whom have fully recovered.

— With files from Richard Zussman and Simon Little