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Protect Our Province masking message on New West billboard takes aim at COVID

Stop rolling the dice: Why a public billboard ad in New Westminster warning about Long Covid?
A billboard on McBride Boulevard is urging folks to mask up to prevent Long Covid.

The pandemic has highlighted the lasting health impacts viruses can have, long after the acute infection is over and done with. 

Many viruses, not just Covid, play a role in causing more serious long-term diseases. Epstein- Barr Virus (EBV), the mononucleosis or kissing disease virus, is associated with Multiple Sclerosis.

Recently, B.C. rolled out an at home self-test for Human Papilloma Virus, that’s because HPV can cause throat and cervical cancer.

After the Great Influenza of 1918, it took us years to learn that children born in and around that time were later at higher risk for Parkinson’s disease (remember Robert De Niro in the movie Awakenings), not to mention cardiac disease and diabetes. 

Public health’s definition of acute severe outcomes – admission to hospital and ICU, deaths within 30 days of a (re)infection of COVID-19 – is from 2020. In 2024, severe outcomes must now include the long list of life-changing, new chronic diseases (post-COVID conditions) that can affect every organ system in the body and the disabling post-infectious syndrome that is called Long Covid.

At the recent U.S. Senate committee hearing: Addressing Long Covid, Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly, an epidemiologist at the University of Washington in St. Louis and a leading COVID-19 researcher at the University of Washington in St. Louis, stated:

“The burden of disease and disability from Long Covid is on par with cancer and heart disease.” 

And yet, public health is not warning British Columbians that no matter their age (yes, children also), no matter whether they have a pre-existing condition or not, everyone is at risk of developing Long Covid. 

Recently, Statistics Canada reported that as of June 2023, 2.1 million adult Canadians were experiencing ongoing symptoms three or more months after a COVID-19 infection. And for one in five adult Canadians, these long-term symptoms interfered with school or work.

Every Covid infection is a roll of the dice, and with each additional roll, your risk of Long Covid goes up. Stop rolling. Don’t breathe in infectious air. Mask up, ventilate and filter air in indoor spaces! Your health depends on it.

Protect Our Province (a grassroots group of physicians, nurses, health scientists, health policy specialists and community advocates)

Protect Our Province BC, in partnership with Covid Awareness group out of Newfoundland, has purchased a one-week advertisement billboard in New Westminster. Its message about Long Covid runs from Feb. 5 to 11.