UBC changes its wording of campus notifications on COVID-19

UBC has changed its March 17 campus notification to remove a paragraph about having no confirmed COVID-19 cases in its community. But the university said this is only to align itself with communication protocols of local health authorities.

On the afternoon of March 19, the university revised its most recent campus notification without any update, keeping the timestamp at March 17 at 4:10 p.m. PDT.

Using Wayback Machine, an archive of the post reveals the paragraph that was removed from the updated notification, which included a sentence about the absence of COVID-19 cases at UBC.

“The Public Health Agency of Canada continues to assess the public health risk associated with the virus. However, it is important to state that UBC does not currently have any confirmed cases amongst its faculty, staff and student community,” reads the removed paragraph.

According to UBC Media Relations Director of University Affairs Matthew Ramsey, the university made the change to follow local health authorities’ communication protocols.

“We’ve been in constant contact with Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) and other health authorities around their communications protocols,” he said. “Local health authorities are responsible for contact tracing and identifying individuals who need to be notified, so we changed the FAQ to reflect that.”

Ramsey then attributed the lack of change for the notification’s timestamp to a “system error.”

VCH said that it currently doesn’t have information about presumptive or confirmed cases of COVID-19 at UBC.

At the March 20 press briefing, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said BC is not disclosing the exact locations of every COVID-19 case to protect the privacy of patients. She also noted that this pandemic is different from the measles outbreak last year, where the province released the exact locations of cases in response.

“Measles can be spread in the air after somebody has left the room so we need to give people an idea of where they might have been in contact with it,” she said. “We’re not seeing that with this disease.”

"We’re now at the place where it's irrelevant what community you’re in,” Henry added.

Stay up to date on information related to COVID-19 by visiting ubyssey.ca/covid-19/

This article has been updated to add more context about health authorities’ communications protocol.