Every day thousands of people travel between the mainland and Vancouver Island via the Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay and Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay BC Ferries routes, making the vessels potential sites for spreading germs.
This has prompted BC Ferries to step up its typical protocols in the wake of one case of coronavirus being diagnosed in the Vancouver area.
On Thursday, the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus as a global health emergency, after more than 8,000 cases have been diagnosed with more than 170 deaths, a majority of which are in China. By Friday morning almost 10,000 cases had been diagnosed globally. Three cases have been confirmed in Canada.
“BC Ferries is regularly monitoring information and direction from the BC Centre for Disease Control and the Public Health Agency of Canada regarding the Coronavirus. The risk associated with the spread of the Coronavirus in British Columbia and Canada has been deemed to be low. We will continue to closely monitor the situation,” said Astrid Braunschmidt, manager of corporate communications at BC Ferries, in an emailed statement.
“We have standard procedures in place to mitigate the spread of illness on our ferries and at our terminals. As a precaution, crews at our terminals and on board our vessels are taking extra measures to clean all touch points.”
The BC Centre for Disease Control says symptoms can present themselves differently, depending on an individual’s immune system, but could include a runny nose, headache, sore throat, fever, feeling unwell, difficulty breathing, pneumonia, kidney failure and death.
Health experts say that the best preventative measures are the same as those applied to a typical flu; washing hands, coughing or sneezing into elbows and arms versus hands, not sharing food, and avoiding interactions with people who are ill.