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.
“If you think that what we think was stupid, don’t follow our lead.”
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
He was taken to hospital, where he remains in critical condition with breathing issues, a blood infection and possible stroke symptoms.
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.
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.”
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.
“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.
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.”