Now that a B.C. woman has caught COVID-19 through community transmission, TransLink and Vancouver’s sports arenas are taking extra precautions.
This weekend, BC Place is welcoming the world for the annual Rugby Sevens tour stop. Staff are preparing to deal with the roughly 40,000 people expected to crowd the stadium for the tournament.
“BC Place has placed additional hand sanitizing stations throughout the venue, and has further enhanced its cleaning and sanitizing protocols,” a spokesperson told CTV News in an email. “The stadium’s Environmental Services team has also undergone upgraded Infection Prevention and Control training specific to coronavirus.”
HSBC Canada Sevens managing director Jamie Levhuck said the organization has been working with health authorities and BC Place in the run-up to the event.
"The safety of our fans, of our teams (and) our staff is always a number one priority for us," Levhuck said.
That’s not the only local arena hosting an event: the Canucks have a home game Friday night against the Colorado Avalanche.
Staff at Rogers Arena there said they too have increased the number of hand sanitizers to "approximately 150" around the venue. Those in attendance may notice an increase in the number of staff cleaning.
"We have also increased our cleaning staff and surface cleaning frequency in areas like food service areas, washrooms, elevator lobbies, and entry gates during events and added more educational signage throughout Rogers Arena," a spokesperson said in a statement.
Concerns about the virus are heightened since provincial health officials announced one of the newest confirmed cases is a woman who hasn't travelled to any COVID-19 affected countries or had contact with any known carriers.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry noted the surveillance B.C. has in place managed to catch the case, and that teams are now looking at where the woman was and who she interacted with in the weeks before she developed symptoms.
“That investigation is obviously one that we’re watching very carefully and there’s been a lot of disease detective work that’s been done in the last 24 hours,” Henry said in a news conference.
“There are a number of public events, there’s a number of places that she’s attended. There’s a work place so those are all things that are being investigated in detail."
When asked if it’s still safe to attend large events, Henry said "we are still very much in the small cases clusters phase in British Columbia, so I do think it’s safe to have our gatherings.” But if anyone is sick, Henry said they should stay home and not attend any group gatherings.
For those taking public transit to major events, TransLink is stepping up its cleaning procedures of buses, and SkyTrains as well.
Spokesperson Ben Murphy told CTV News stations and bus loops are being cleaned at least once daily, including "a wipe down of stair and escalator handrails, elevator buttons, door handles, fare gates, Compass vending machines, garbage handles, benches, seats, emergency cabinets and emergency phones.”
SkyTrains are being cleaned overnight and receive a “disinfectant wipe down of poles, seats, ceilings, handles, windows, sills, and other surfaces within the cars,” Murphy said in an email. The entire bus and SeaBus fleets are also being sprayed in addition to daily cleaning schedules.
There are event cancellations however. The BC Children’s Hospital Foundation’s annual gala at the Hotel Vancouver has been postponed. Surina Sproul, marketing director with the foundation, told CTV News it “came down to a number of donors and volunteers were expressing concerns about coronavirus.” They do not have a new date planned.
Despite this increase in caution, health officials maintain the best way to keep yourself safe is frequent hand washing.