Advertisement

‘Learn from our story’: How a B.C. birthday became a COVID-19 superspreader event

Click to play video 'Family birthday becomes superspreader event' Family birthday becomes superspreader event
Family birthday becomes superspreader event – Nov 29, 2020

A North Vancouver man is pleading with others to take the rules against social gatherings seriously, after attending a recent family birthday dinner linked to seven cases of COVID-19.

Two of those people required hospitalization, and one of them remains sedated and intubated.

“It was six of us, just having a family dinner, not having a major party,” Shaun Hanson, 41, told Global News.

Story continues below advertisement

“If you think that what we think was stupid, don’t follow our lead.”

Read more: After latest outbreak, Surrey teachers call for mandatory masks, smaller classes

Hanson, his wife, his cousin and his niece gathered at his parents home for a birthday dinner for his 66-year-old father earlier this month.

Despite the recent order against social gatherings, they believed they were OK because it was within their family bubble, and all of the family members had been seeing each other regularly beforehand.

Click to play video 'Surrey, B.C. teacher shares ICU battle with COVID-19' Surrey, B.C. teacher shares ICU battle with COVID-19
Surrey, B.C. teacher shares ICU battle with COVID-19 – Nov 28, 2020

Hanson’s cousin’s wife wasn’t feeling well and stayed home. She and several other family members have conditions with chronic symptoms, he said, so they thought nothing of it.

She later tested positive, and Hanson now believes she may have been the initial case.

Story continues below advertisement

Read more: B.C. reports 11 deaths and 911 new COVID-19 cases, number in hospital tops 300

“People are going to be thinking — and have already been thinking — we were really stupid for it,” he said.

“But we were already all together before we found out she was that sick.”

Click to play video '‘His mom doesn’t even know she’s delivered him yet:’ B.C. dad shares how son was born while wife battles COVID-19' ‘His mom doesn’t even know she’s delivered him yet:’ B.C. dad shares how son was born while wife battles COVID-19
‘His mom doesn’t even know she’s delivered him yet:’ B.C. dad shares how son was born while wife battles COVID-19 – Nov 13, 2020

It wasn’t long before everyone who attended developed symptoms.

Hanson and his wife began vomiting, while his mother found his father, who suffers from COPD, collapsed on the floor of their home.

Read more: Hospitalized teacher from shuttered, COVID-stricken Surrey school speaks out

He was taken to hospital, where he remains in critical condition with breathing issues, a blood infection and possible stroke symptoms.

Story continues below advertisement
Click to play video 'B.C. family shares journey of COVID-19 recovery' B.C. family shares journey of COVID-19 recovery
B.C. family shares journey of COVID-19 recovery – Oct 11, 2020

Hanson’s family dinner is exactly the kind of situation Dr. Kathleen Ross, president of Doctors of B.C., fears remains all too common, despite repeated pleas from health officials.

Read more: ‘For me, it is personal’: B.C. doctor makes heartfelt appeal after death of 3 COVID-19 patients

She said by now, it’s clear how the virus spreads: at indoor, group gatherings where people can’t maintain physical distancing.

“At some point we need to decide if that poker game or that birthday party or that gathering indoors in close quarters is actually worth someone’s life,” she said.

“We are physically and emotionally getting exhausted by this virus. And honestly our capacity to keep working at this high stress level is not unlimited.”

Story continues below advertisement
Click to play video 'B.C.’s top doctor explains how quickly the coronavirus moves through gatherings like weddings' B.C.’s top doctor explains how quickly the coronavirus moves through gatherings like weddings
B.C.’s top doctor explains how quickly the coronavirus moves through gatherings like weddings – Nov 5, 2020

Hanson and his wife have now recovered, though are still dealing with lingering symptoms — while his mother remains bed-ridden.

“I got lucky and my wife got lucky, but for me being home, not being able to be with my mom when she needs me, not being able to be at my dad’s bedside while he’s laying there sedated, it’s hard,” he said.

Read more: RCMP say they’re not writing tickets for people driving together from different households

“I didn’t believe it was as severe as it is. I thought it was just a flu that is killing people who can’t handle it. But nobody can really handle this. It’s way more severe than anyone can imagine.”

He said he is not looking for pity, but that he wants people to learn from his experience how easily COVID-19 can spread, and how serious it can be.

Story continues below advertisement

He said he now believes that the province should implement even stricter restrictions.

“My message for everybody is to take it serious, take it very serious, do what everybody is saying, listen to the doctors,” he said.

“Learn from my story. Understand, it’s so easy to catch.”