Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.'s provincial health officer, has been providing regular briefings to B.C.'s health care unions about the developing situation worldwide related to COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus). The next meetings of B.C.'s health care unions and Dr. Henry are scheduled for Tuesday, March 3, and an in person meeting will be held on Friday, March 6. These meetings are coordinated through HEABC and B.C.'s Ministry of Health.
A provincial committee dedicated to coordinating a standardized response across the health authorities in terms of policy, procedure, and dissemination of information is in place. Ensure that you are regularly checking on your employer's website for current policies and procedures relative to COVID-19.
Health care workers who are concerned about being exposed should take the following precautions:
- Follow all recommended policies and procedures relative to personal protective equipment (PPE): remember the importance of PPE
- If you come into contact with somebody with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 (fever, cough, difficulty breathing), please make sure you are following droplet precautions [mask, gloves, gowns, hand hygiene, eye protection, and asking the patient to put on a mask] unless performing an aerosol generating medical procedure (AGMP)
- Workers using N95 masks should have had FIT testing within last two years (and ensure that you know where to find the equipment when needed)
Watch for concerning symptoms, that is:
- fever and/or new onset or exacerbation of chronic cough
- AND travel to an affected area in the 14 days before onset of illness
- OR close contact with a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19 within 14 days before their illness onset
- OR close contact with a person with acute respiratory illness who has been to an affected area within 14 days prior to their illness onset.
- If you suspect a patient has potentially been exposed, follow your employer's policies and procedures to report this to the appropriate contacts
- If you are unsure of anything related to your employer's policies and procedures, contact email@example.com.
Stay up-to-date on information for health care workers here: http://www.bccdc.ca/health-professionals/clinical-resources/novel-coronavirus-(covid-19)
It should also be noted that Adrian Dix, BC's Minister of Health, and Dr. Henry issued a joint statement to the public last week regarding COVID-19 updates. In the statement, they advise: "The most important measures people can take to prevent respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, are cleaning your hands regularly, avoiding touching your face, coughing or sneezing into your elbow sleeve, disposing of tissues appropriately and staying home and away from others if you are sick."
For more information, please refer to this detailed bulletin recently sent to all BCGEU members: https://www.bcgeu.ca/coronavirus_information_for_bcgeu_members
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