Dentist chairs around the province will sit empty due to concerns around COVID-19. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Williams Lake dentist staff among those who attended Vancouver conference

"When they tracked their movements it was determined that we posed zero risk"

Staff at Williams Lake Dental were busy Monday afternoon calling patients to cancel future appointments after the College of Dental Surgeons of British Columbia made the decision to suspend all elective, non-essential dental work due to COVID-19.

The move came after provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry told a news conference Monday that everyone who attended the Pacific Dental Conference in Vancouver – more than 14,000 people – needed to stop working and self-isolate immediately due to an attendee testing positive for the coronavirus.

Read More: B.C. hospitals start cancelling elective surgeries in COVID-19 preparations

Dr. Greg Hein of Williams Lake Dental confirmed he and a handful of staff did attend two days of the conference on March 4 and 5, but were not there at the same time as the infected individual who attended the conference Friday, March 6.

“We were lucky,” Hein said of the timeline. “I’m just glad we weren’t there at the same time.”

Hein said they were notified of the situation a week later on Wednesday, March 11.

“When they tracked their movements it was determined that we posed zero risk – that’s why we were open,” said Hein.

“We would never have opened otherwise.”

Hein noted staff are not exhibiting any symptoms of illness, however, all staff will self-isolate until March 22 as directed by the College of Dental Surgeons of British Columbia.

There is no indication as to when dentists in the province will be able to get back to work.

Read More: B.C. dentists to suspend all elective, non-essential dental work due to COVID-19


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