Coronavirus privacy: Top B.C. doc defends policy

B.C.’s health authorities have defended their protection of people’s privacy when it comes to revealing details of coronavirus cases.

It was revealed last week that the province’s sixth case of the virus (COVID-19) was a woman from the Fraser Health region, who had recently returned from Iran.

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Fraser Health subsequently warned Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows schools of possible exposure last week, leading to people calling for more details of the location.

B.C.’s top medical health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, was asked Tuesday morning at a media conference why it wasn’t possible to narrow down which schools in that region were affected.

“When you target one or two specific schools you make it easier to identify individuals,” said Henry.

“We have processes in place to identify anyone who has been in contact (with confirmed cases) in those areas.

“If we were not sure we had contacted everyone involved, we would then reach out (to the public).”

Henry added that if people get targeted, then the likelihood of other suspected cases coming forward will plummet.

She also explained that, during a measles outbreak, the need to alert the public is greater because that disease can hang around in the air and on surfaces for longer, thus potentially affecting more people.

The Richmond News had asked previously why confirmed cases of the virus were not being narrowed down more that the Vancouver Coastal Health region, which includes Richmond.

Henry revealed Tuesday that two passengers who were aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan are now in quarantine in B.C.

She said the pair from the ship - which has been quarantined in Japan - has come back here and are again under quarantine, as per a federal order.

This comes as the third passenger, who was on board, has died and 57 more people tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19).

As of Tuesday morning, COVID-19 has infected 80,419 people around the world and killed 2,711, most of whom are in China.

Almost 28,000 of those cases have fully recovered.

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