Fraser Health is reporting additional exposures for a Port Coquitlam middle school and a Coquitlam elementary school but says schools are safe even if they get hit by a COVID-19 exposure more than once.
Exposures for October 16, 20, 21 and 22 have been added for Mundy Road elementary school, which previously had an exposure Oct. 8. At Kwayhquitlum elementary school, new exposures on Oct. 22 and 23 were added to previously reported exposures on Oct. 16,19, 20 and 21.
The additional dates do not a signal that schools are less safe, according to Fraser Health.
However, they come as cases of COVId-19 have nearly doubled in the Tri-Cities health delivery area.
CASES IN BROADER COMMUNITY
“An exposure is defined as a single person with a lab-confirmed COVID-19 infection who attended school during their infectious period. Exposure dates listed for a school exposure on our website may include one case or more, depending on the situation,” a Fraser Health spokesperson explained in an email to the Tri-City News.
Additional exposure dates reflect the circulation of COVID-19 in the broader community, the spokesperson noted, and is a reminder that people should continue to follow public health advice in order to stop transmission.
The recommendation comes as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has noted that Thanksgiving activities, including dinner parties, weddings and celebrations of life have contributed to a larger case count of COVID-19 in recent weeks.
Recently she described a situation where someone infected people at a small house gathering, and one person died.
Keeping gatherings small, no more than a “safe six” in addition to members of a household for the fall and winter is recommended across B.C. But in Fraser Health, where transmission is surging, the health authority’s CEO and president Dr. Victoria Lee said residents should reconsider whether it’s necessary to have people over in their homes at all.
TRANSMISSION RISK 'LOW' IN SCHOOLS
According to Fraser Health, school-based transmission has been rare and when “cases are classified as an exposure, the risk for transmission remains low.”
Therefore, unless a student has been contacted by Public Health and told to stay home, they should continue to attend school, according to Fraser Health.
Currently, nine SD43 schools are listed on the Fraser Health website as having exposures — four in Port Coquitlam and five in Coquitlam. See below for a map of all the school exposures to date.
According to Fraser Health, a school “exposure” indicates a single person with a lab-confirmed COVID-19 infection attended school during their infectious period. A school “cluster,” on the other hand, indicates possible school-based transmission with two or more lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 attending school while infectious. Finally, an “outbreak” at a school means “multiple individuals with lab-confirmed COVID-19 infection” and that “transmission is likely widespread.”