Opinion: Her Burnaby classmate has been ‘quarantined’. Now what?

Chris Campbell

People have a lot of opinions about how to react to the coronavirus – or COVID-19 – pandemic that has gripped our world.

Don’t panic or overreact is a common refrain, but that’s easy for people to say.

What if you were in the same shoes as my best friend?

She goes to school at BCIT in Burnaby and sits next to a guy who got back from China recently. My friend – who moved to Canada from China 15 years ago – was concerned to hear this travel news from her classmate. She didn’t want to overreact, but has heard a lot of information about people being told to “self-isolate” if they have come back from the Hubei province – the place where her classmate had travelled to.

The past few days have been difficult for her because she’s been inundated with information – some true, some false and some just plain crazy.

She’s been sorting through it all and wondering if she should be sitting next to someone who had just arrived here from China.

Then, on Thursday, she and some classmates who are in the same working group got a message from this guy saying that he’s in “hospital and being quarantined” after being contacted by the health ministry.

Yikes. Again, she doesn’t want to overreact, but how would you feel if you were in her shoes?

We’ve heard all of the experts say the spread of the virus is via contact or inhalation of large respiratory droplets and that it is not airborne, so chances are sitting next to this guy wasn’t risky, even if he ends up having COVID-19. But all she knows about her classmate's situation is from one vague text message.

My friend contacted BCIT about this situation and has received some good information from the BC Centre for Disease Control. But she’s still left wondering and worrying, especially if this classmate ends up having COVID-19.

I must reiterate this - my friend is remaining calm and taking precautions by not touching her face and regularly washing her hands. It’s just getting harder to stay that way.

Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.

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