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Keeping out of each other’s faces is the best way to avoid the spread of COVID-19

Deputy Provincial Health Officer Dr. Réka Gustafson
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/BC Government
August 20, 2020 - 5:06 PM

Keeping two metres apart is recommended for safe-distancing to prevent COVID-19 but preventing close face-to-face contact is the real key to stopping its spread.

That point was stressed by B.C.’s Deputy Provincial Health Officer Dr. Réka Gustafson while answering questions from the media during a COVID-19 update today, Aug. 20.

“Physically distancing is a gradient, it’s not an absolute,” she said in response to a question about whether physical distancing is possible in classrooms once school resumes next month.

“We often tell people to provide two metres, mostly between yourself and strangers in public. But we know the other end of the gradient is to reduce really close face-to-face contact with individuals.

“What we know is the vast majority of transmission occurs through very close contact, face-to-face contact, with somebody who’s infected. So, actually, physical distancing is practical in a school setting. The strategy will be different than what we use generally in public.”

Dr. Gustafson rejected the suggestion that COVID-19 is actually an airborne disease that remains in the air for some time.

“Lots of studies are done on what can happen but what really matters to us is what does happen,” she said. “We have 20 million infections all over the world and the behaviour of this virus is now known and we know that the way it is behaving is that it is transmitted in situations with close proximity with others who are infected. That is not the feature of an airborne virus.”

She used the same argument when talking about her objections to reopening casinos in B.C.

“The highest risk is in close settings, where people are in close proximity, especially if they’re interacting quite a bit and touching things and alcohol is involved,” Dr. Gustafson said.

“Don’t expect any change any time soon,” Health Minister Adrian Dix added in reference to casinos remaining closed.

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