B.C. is being hit hard by coronavirus. Wildfire season could make things worse

By Joanna Chiu, Vancouver Bureau, The Star

VANCOUVER—The year has been off to a calamitous start, and a devastating wildfire season might be the last thing people want to think about during the coronavirus pandemic, but experts say smoke from wildfires could make things worse.

Although heavily-forested British Columbia saw relatively mild wildfires last year, both 2017 and 2018 were record-breaking seasons where raging infernos burned an astonishing 2.6 million hectares in total.

And last year, Alberta suffered one of its worst wildfire seasons in history, forcing thousands to evacuate.

Wildfire smoke contains tiny particulates known as PM2.5 that can embed deep into lungs and lead to a host of negative health effects, according to the World Health Organization.

“Deterioration in air quality may lead to more COVID-19 infections overall … (and) more cases of severe COVID-19 infections and add further demand to our health care system,” according to a March 26 advisory from B.C.’s Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.