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Remain vigilant to avoid wildfire smoke, given conditions can worsen COVID-19 infections: expert

Last Updated Aug 15, 2020 at 8:47 am PDT

File photo (CityNews photo)

Given smoke can make cases of COVID-19 worse, an expert believes we've been fortunate to have a less active fire season

Despite the cooperative weather to a UBC professor says it's important we act responsibly for the final weeks of summer

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — An expert tells NEWS 1130 the province has been fortunate to have a less active fire season than usual, as wildfire smoke can make COVID-19 cases worse.

According to UBC forest ecology professor Lori Daniels, those who are vulnerable to the virus, like the elderly and those with chronic conditions, are also at risk when the air clogs up with particulate due to wildfires.

“If people were to become impacted with COVID-19, they may be asymptomatic or have very mild symptoms, but wildfire smoke could potentially make that quite a bit worse. And so that’s where our primary concern comes from,” she explains.

RELATED: Wildfires at historical low in B.C.

Daniels points out it’s fortunate we’ve had a near-record low fire season.

“The interaction between the two certainly was a concern and we know by looking back at earlier examples of SARS, and lung infections, viral infections, how that might have played out,” she says.

However, with some hot days ahead, Daniels encourages everyone to be fire smart, given what’s at stake.

“We’ve had fewer fire starts and then the fires that have begun from lightning or accidental human ignitions, BC Wildfire Service has been able to get them under control before they go too large. And so we’ve had very few fire starts and very small fires this year.”