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This is how a COVID-19 super-spreader event hit Burnaby’s biggest daycare

B.C. government creates an infographic showing how easily the virus spreads

B.C. health officials have revealed new details of how a single pub trivia night led to the exposure of nearly 300 people – including those at Burnaby’s largest daycare facility, as well as industrial sites, a restaurant, a store and the isolation of entire class at a local school.

“From just one COVID-19 positive person at a pub trivia night…” begins the infographic, before detailing how and where 296 were forced to self-isolate at home.

Over the last few weeks, health officials made veiled references to an unnamed pub trivia night which sparked a secondary outbreak at the SFU Childcare Society on Burnaby Mountain, and led to cases at workplaces and schools. 

While not specifically revealing the location of the pub trivia night — where 24 patrons and four workers initially sparked the chain of transmission — reporting by the Tri-City News confirmed a super-spreader event of the same scale stemming from St. James’s Well in Port Moody.

Last month, an industry spokesperson confirmed there had been no other COVID-19 transmission events linked to a trivia night in any bar or pub in B.C.

From the pub night, transmission chains break into three streams, according to the infographic. Two daycare staff are said to have gone to work after attending the trivia night, sparking infections among 27 people linked to the daycare, and another 15 secondary cases.

A second series of transmission events occurred in eight workplaces after people who attended the trivia night went to work sick. Those included: two industrial sites, two offices, a restaurant and a store.

Finally, contact tracers tracked a third chain of transmission among 10 people who had close contact with someone who attended the pub trivia night. Of those, one school staff member came to work sick, infecting a colleague and triggering the self-isolation of an entire class.

The super-spreader event coincides with a surge of COVID-19 cases across in Burnaby in recent weeks. Last week, the BC Centre for Disease Control released data saying Burnaby had 243 new cases during the previous week – one of the highest weekly numbers since the start of the pandemic.

Andrew Longhurst, whose wife and toddler were diagnosed with COVID-19 after their child attended the Burnaby daycare, previously told the NOW how frustrated he was about a lack of information about the outbreak’s origins.

“We’ve been told nothing,” he told the NOW in February. “It makes me angry and it also makes me sad. It would be helpful if they were just honest about if this was a super-spreader event.”

Beyond how the daycare outbreak was spread, what Longhurst said he really wants is for B.C. to start allowing the use of what is referred to as rapid tests in such places at daycares and long-term care homes. Longhurst understands the rapid tests are not 100% effective – the reason cited by Henry for why B.C. isn’t using them other than a pilot project – but he says it’s another tool that could help stop another potential wave of cases.

“This is a perfect opportunity to deploy rapid tests,” he said. “Why are we doing this to people? We have these tools, let’s use them.”

  • With additional reporting by Stefan Labbé, Tri-City News