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COVID-19 still poses long-term health threat, group warns

As pandemic safety measures continue to ease, COVID-19 awareness group Protect Our Province BC notes continued potential risks posed by virus.
covid19 antigen test
A positive COVID-19 antigen test. Three years into the pandemic, the Protect Our Province BC group is promoting COVID Awareness Week to remind people the virus is still among us.

Three years after the COVID-19 pandemic started, Protect Our Province BC is promoting COVID Awareness Week along with allied COVID-19 safety groups.

The five-day event, which runs from April 3 to April 7, is an attempt to inform Canadians of the harm that the virus can cause to their health and well-being, according a release from Protect Our Province.

Dr. Lyne Filiatrault, a retired emergency physician and member of the Protect Our Province BC (POP BC), highlighted the importance of public awareness of possible consequences of the virus. Filiatrault said that during the week of April 2 to April 8, B.C. is at a higher risk of COVID-19 contamination than any other place in Canada at the moment, with a 16.2 per cent chance of becoming infected with the virus, according to Covid Resources Canada.

“There's really a need for the public to become aware of the lasting long-term impacts of COVID-19 that public health [authorities] refuse to talk about,” Filitrault said. 

She said there needs to be a change in how the health-care system deals with the virus. 

“If we continue the way we're going, we're going to have a huge percentage of our population that is chronically disabled, and a huge proportion of our population that has new chronic disease,” she said. “That will require health care that will not be available, because it's going to be impossible to meet the demand.”  

POP BC warned in its release that the long-term effects of the virus can increase risk of heart disease, strokes, kidney disease, blood clots, diabetes and a compromised immune system, among other problems.

As part of its participation in COVID Awareness Week, the organization is also launching a letter campaign urging B.C. residents to ask their MLAs to support legislation requiring clean indoor air in all workplaces and public spaces. 

Clean indoor air policies and bills already exist in other provinces such as Ontario and New Brunswick. Filiatrault explained that clean indoor air regulations basically consist in monitoring the quality of the air and making sure that there's enough ventilation for the air to circulate or by air filtration.

Filiatrault advised what people could do to prevent the worst outcome, including "staying up to date with vaccination, wearing masks indoors, particularly when cases are high, like now, pushing government to clean the air in indoor spaces, public spaces."

"We also need to track the transmission of the virus in our community, and let the public know about it, when we are at high risk for COVID-19 infection as we are now.”