Protecting You and Those You Care For
Yesterday, the Provincial Health Officer announced the first presumed case of the coronavirus in BC. The person affected lives in the Vancouver Coastal Health region and is currently in isolation at home.
While the overall risk from this virus to the public in BC remains low, this is a good reminder about the importance of protecting care workers (and their clients) against infection, as we should do every flu season. This includes:
- Proper handwashing before and after interactions with residents and clients
- Proper donning/doffing procedures for personal protective equipment, including gloves, goggles, gowns, and respirators/masks
- Coughing/sneezing into your elbow or into a tissue
- Avoiding touching your face, mouth, and nose with unwashed hands
- Staying home if sick
Employers are reminded to ensure that staff have proper training on donning/doffing procedures for personal protective equipment. Where respirator/mask use is required (e.g. N95 masks), staff must be fit-tested. Fit-testing is required:
- At least once a year
- Before a worker uses a respirator/mask for the first time
- If a worker experiences physical changes (e.g. weight loss/gain, broken facial bones) that could affect a respirator/mask’s fit
Employers must also ensure they have proper protocols and procedures around identifying and providing care to individuals who require contact/droplet precautions. This includes having a process in place to communicate the risk to staff members (e.g. signage at the resident’s door, chart alerts) and ensuring staff are aware of this process.
What’s the Risk?
Presently, the BC Centre for Disease Control is advising that at a minimum, care be practiced under droplet and contact precautions with suspected or confirmed cases, and airborne precautions should be followed when performing aerosol-generating activities (e.g. cardiopulmonary resuscitation, open suctioning, etc.). Regular updates about the new coronavirus can be found on the BC Centre for Disease Control’s website.
Unless you are working with someone who may have been exposed to the new coronavirus or who requires such precautions, however, we do not recommend that staff wear masks. (In cases where masks are necessary, the masks must be appropriate for the use). Surgical masks, in particular, are not an effective preventative measure for the new coronavirus. There is also no need to stockpile supplies or to incorporate special cleaning procedures into current routines.
Anyone who is concerned they may have been exposed to the new coronavirus or who is experiencing symptoms (e.g. fever, cough and difficulty breathing) is advised to contact their doctor, local public health office or call 811. Please note, suspected cases of this new coronavirus are a reportable condition under the Public Health Act of BC and must be reported to the local Medical Health Officer.
The risk to British Columbians is low at this time. SafeCare BC has been in contact with the Office of the Provincial Health Officer and we will continue to provide updates to our members as circumstances change. We encourage our members to use reputable sources of information, such as the BC Centre for Disease Control for information on the new coronavirus.
Hand washing practices:
General information on protective equipment: