COVID-19 steps cutting down on spread of other diseases
VICTORIA -- Meagan Brame says it’s remarkable how few toddlers at her daycare, Saxe Point Daycare, have gotten sick this spring. She attributes much of that good health to COVID-19 related measures, including extra hand-washing and physical distancing.
“Normally, when there’s a change in season — which is what exactly we just went through — we would see a big influx of cold symptoms and nobody’s been sick,” she says.
Dr. Richard Stanwick, the chief medical health officer for Island Health, says the pandemic first hit B.C. at the tail end of flu season, so it’s hard to assess exactly how much extra precautions have prevented the spread of flu infections and colds. But, he says, there’s no doubt that good habits like regular hand-washing have helped prevent the spread of such diseases.
He also says the transmission of other illnesses, like stomach bugs, has been thwarted this year by hand-washing and extra care for sanitation. In particular, he says there’s been a notable lack of outbreaks of those illnesses in long-term care homes in B.C.
“We’ve also seen gastrointestinal viruses, such as Norwalk virus, are actually not as frequent as we would normally expect,” Stanwick noted.
Stanwick also says it’s important that parents continue to get their kids vaccinated, as another important protection against diseases other than the coronavirus, like measles and whooping cough.
“These diseases may be in abeyance right now, but there are some that we need to get an immunological memory – in other words become familiar with – and that is, for children in particular, their routine vaccinations,” Stanwick said.
He also says with a second COVID-19 wave considered likely, coming this fall, perhaps — right in the heart of flu season — the importance of sticking with our new habits will be critical.
“What we’re concerned about is if the two arrive concurrently, we’re going to have some real challenges,” Stanwick said.