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Outdoor transmission of COVID-19 has happened in B.C., says Dr. Henry

Last Updated Sep 15, 2020 at 11:33 am PDT

FILE - Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. (Courtesy Government of B.C., Flickr)
Summary

Outdoor transmission of COVID-19 can happened, but is unlikely if people are walking past one another: top doctor

Dr. Bonnie Henry confirmed Monday that B.C. has had COVID-19 cases related to outdoor transmission

Henry said outdoor transmission of the virus remains less likely than indoors

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — Outdoor transmission of COVID-19 can and has happened in B.C., but is unlikely if people are just walking past one another.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry confirmed Monday that B.C. has had COVID-19 cases related to outdoor transmission.

“So we have had some. I don’t have the exact number, but we have had some events,” she said.

One outdoor transmission event she’s aware of involved a close, heated conversation.

Henry said outdoor transmission of the virus remains less likely than indoors.

“We were very worried early on about droplets and droplet transmission and what that meant and the difference between the size of droplets, whether it’s an aerosol or larger droplet,” she added.

“We know that this virus doesn’t live as long in smaller droplets, as they dry out and get smaller and we can inhale them deeper into our lungs,” Henry said.

It lives better with more moisture, she added.

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“That’s why we talk about one metre to two metres, that’s the space that the virus lives best in, droplets that are a little bit moist like that,” she said.

“So outside, even if there’s a bit of a breeze, it can disperse all of those droplets quite quickly, which means that you’re very unlikely to inhale enough of the virus that you will get sick yourself. And if somebody’s just passing you on the street, even if they’re close, the risk is very, very low to non-existent,” Henry added.

“And we don’t have, you know, that type of walk-by transmission events, that I’m aware of.”

She said a greater risk is events such as parties, where people are talking to each other closely without wearing a mask and sharing food and drinks.