OHS Canada Magazine

Walk, run or bike to work rather than get on a packed train or bus, Dr. Henry advises

Transportation concerns remain with B.C. economy slated to reopen


Dr. Bonnie Henry provides a COVID-19 update to the media on May 6.(Photo courtesy of B.C. Government)

By Hina Alam

People should look at alternate methods of getting to work during the COVID-19 pandemic such as walking, running or biking rather than getting on a packed train or bus, says British Columbia’s top doctor.

Dr. Bonnie Henry said public health officials are concerned about transportation as the province looks to gradually reopen and they’ve been working with authorities to make sure distancing measures remain in place.

“So, you won’t be seeing those packed cars, buses or subway cars in the near future,” she said at a news conference Thursday. “And we are also looking at other things like short-term wearing of non-medical masks in the transit system.”

Walking or biking to work can also give people a chance to get some exercise along the way, she said.

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The province reported another 15 people tested positive for the novel coronavirus, bringing the total to 2,392.

Three more people died in B.C., for a toll of 135 deaths. The number of people who have recovered is 1,885.

Henry said she has been in touch with colleagues at the World Health Organization to discuss concerns about how the novel coronavirus is going to behave in the future.

The organization issued a report saying the virus “may never go away.”

“There is the possibility that it will actually continue to circulate for many years and so that is something that is top of mind for many of us,” Henry said, noting the importance of testing, immunity and a vaccine that can help manage it in the long term.

B.C. to begin reopening May 19

As the province looks at reopening some services starting Tuesday, Henry said she doesn’t expect everything will be open immediately.

The British Columbia Dental Association said its members’ offices won’t be open for service until it gets further direction on protecting patients and staff from COVID-19.

Full dental services will be introduced gradually and when it’s safe to do so, not on the opening date on May 19 when other services are set to resume in the province, said a statement from the association.

Association spokesman Dr. Alastair Nicoll said dental teams are experts at infection control and they want to ensure their practices are appropriately set up to comply with physical distancing and other requirements to reduce the transmission of the virus.

WorkSafe BC said in a statement that industry-specific guidelines will be available on their website by the end of the week.

Henry said such measures will include keeping safe distances, reducing the number of people in a room and regularly cleaning high touch places.

“We are not going to get everything perfect and that has been my burden to bear from the very beginning. We do the best we can.”

Public health officials will watch the number of cases once things begin to reopen and plan, adjust or adapt depending on the spread of infection, she said.

“The incubation period for this virus is 14 days. So, it will take us 14 to 28 days to understand the impact of the measures that we are taking in the coming weeks,” Henry said.