One of Vancouver Island’s busiest 7-Eleven stores is back in business after temporarily shutting its doors due to an employee testing positive for COVID-19.
“It’s important to let people know community transmission is happening in B.C. and we need to get it down,” says Caroline Colijn, an infectious disease modeller at Simon Fraser University.
The downtown Victoria store, in the 3000-block of Douglas Street near Johnson Street, had to be sanitized and affected employees are self-isolating
But Island Health didn’t issue a public notification, even though the potential exposure period spanned four days — from Aug. 10 to Aug. 14.
It was 7-Eleven that made it public — just like they did when an employee tested positive at the Ladysmith 7-Eleven back in March.
“I think it’s great they are so proactive about putting this out,” Colijn says. “If people think they might have been exposed, they can modify their behaviour.”
Island Health declined an interview but issued a statement to CHEK News on Monday saying:
Contact tracing from Island Health’s Public Health team ensures anyone with a potentially close contact exposure to a confirmed case is followed up with. A close contact exposure means face-to-face contact while a person is infectious for an extended period of time.
When public health officials cannot be certain they have reached all those who need to be contacted and there may be a risk to the public, they issue a public notification.
Experts say it’s unlikely a customer at the store would meet that threshold.
“The risk is probably really low for a customer who was there for five minutes,” says Colijn.
The bigger concern is parties and bars — where people are indoors, close together, for several hours.
It’s led to the recent increase in cases in B.C. and infectious disease modellers say it’s important to realize that for every confirmed case, there are likely many more.
“Eighty cases doesn’t sound like too much but when you think about the fact we don’t detect all the cases, maybe there are 800 out there,” says Colijn.
As of Monday, there are six active COVID-19 cases in Island Health.
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