Protecting Yourself From Infection: COVID-19

As a care worker, staying on top of your own health and safety is a vital part of being able to provide care for others.

Viruses and infections are not only a hazard to your health, but also to the health of those around you. Below is up-to-date, evidence-based information on the COVID-19 coronavirus and how you and your loved ones can stay healthy.


The Latest News


As of September 21:

  • There have been 8,208 cases of the coronavirus in BC. 5,972 of these cases have made a complete recovery.
  • There are active cases in 12 care organizations (long-term care home and assisted living residence) and 3 hospital units.
  • There are 1,987 active cases in BC.
  • The vast majority of COVID-19 cases are mild; however, the elderly or those with underlying health conditions are at higher risk of experiencing complications from COVID-19.

Symptoms Self-Assessment Tool: the BC Ministry of Health has developed a tool to help determine if you need further assessment or testing for COVID-19. You can complete this on behalf of yourself or another person. Access the tool here: https://covid19.thrive.health/


COVID-19

Questions? Ask us.


Have a question about the coronavirus? Use this form to ask.

COVID-19 Questions


What is COVID-19? What is the Coronavirus?


As stated by the World Health Organization, Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans. In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The most recently discovered of these viruses causes COVID-19.


What is the risk?


The virus is transmitted through droplets of moisture – such as coughing, sneezing. There is no evidence to-date of any airborne transmission.


How can I protect myself?


The following are things everyone should do:

  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds using soap and water.
  • Use alcohol-based hand rubs to clean hands if they are not visibly soiled.
  • Do not touch your face,eyes or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough with a disposable tissue or the crease of your elbow.
  • Avoid non-essential international travel.
  • Stay at home when you are sick.

What you need to know—see below


Long-Term Care (click to learn more)

I work in a care home


  • Follow proper infection prevention and control practices, including handwashing for at least 20 seconds using soap and water, or using an alcohol-based hand rub if hands are not visibly soiled. Do this before and after contact with residents.
  • Comply with existing workplace infection control policies and procedures and requirements for personal protective equipment use when interacting with residents.
  • Know how to properly put on and take off personal protective equipment, such as gloves, surgical masks, eye protection, and gowns. If you need a refresher or more information, ask your manager.
  • If you have travelled internationally, self-isolate for 14 days unless you are deemed essential. Self-monitor for symptoms. The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some people with the virus may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea  (World Health Organization).
  • If you have a fever, dry cough, or difficulty breathing, contact Health Link BC at 811 before visiting your doctor’s office or hospital Emergency.
  • At first sign of any illness, stay home from work.
  • Visit the BC Centre for Disease Control for more information.

I am a visitor to a care home


  • Visits are limited to one designated family member of friend
  • All visits must be booked in advance
  • Visitors are encouraged to complete the online Social Visitation Essentials Orientation prior to their visit
  • Visitors must complete a pre-screen checklist prior to arrival to their scheduled visit and will be screened upon arrival to the care home
  • Visitors are required to bring and wear their own mask for the duration of the visit
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand rub, when entering and leaving a care home, and before and after providing direct support to your loved one.
  • If you have signs of symptoms of illness, or if you are in self-isolation or quarantine, you will not be permitted to visit. Ask the care home if there are other ways you can still connect with your loved one, whether online or by phone  (World Health Organization).
  • Visits will not be allowed if there is an active COVID-19 outbreak at the care home and you will not be able to visit if you or the resident you are visiting are ill, or have any COVID-19 symptoms
  • Visit the BC Centre for Disease Control for more information.

I am a manager


  • Have surveillance mechanisms in place to catch potential cases early. Ensure this takes into account staff, volunteers, visitors, contractors and residents. Long-term care homes should follow current guidance from the BC-CDC for asymptomatic resident care, as well as contact and droplet precautions when providing care to any person under investigation for COVID-19.
  • Ensure ALL staff, designated visitors and volunteers are properly trained in infection prevention and control practices, and that they follow these practices. Have refreshers, so people feel comfortable knowing the protocols. This includes maintenance, food service, administration and other support workers.
  • Ensure appropriate stock of:
    • disinfectants and cleaners
    • personal protective equipment (including gowns, gloves, masks)
    • if you are in imminent danger of running out of supplies, please fill in this form online.
  • Ensure that you are aware of personal protective equipment guidelines for Long-Term Care.
  • Ensure that workers are trained in the use of PPE and have been fit-tested for the N95 respirator if required.
  • Display signage that instructs all staff and visitors to wash their hands when entering and leaving your care home, and actively screen visitors.
  • Visitors who are feeling unwell, are showing signs of respiratory illness, such as fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath, or who should be self-isolating shall not be allowed access to the care home.
  • If any visitor reports symptoms of being unwell during their visit, including fever, dry cough, or difficulty breathing, support your staff in asking them to leave the care home.
  • Ensure there is a process in place to allow for the scheduling of visits in a pre-determined location in accordance with the BC Centre for Disease Control’s Infection Prevention and Control requirements for COVID-19.
  • While it may be challenging for staff scheduling, don’t encourage workers to come to work if they are unwell, or required to self-isolate in accordance with Public Health directives.
  • Ensure that there is a process in place for workers to follow if they develop symptoms of COVID-19 while on shift. Clearly communicate this process to workers.
  • Support your staff if they identify unsafe situations and respond to those concerns
  • Cancel group gatherings at your care home.
  • Discourage visitors from visiting in or using communal areas.
  • Encourage visitors to find other ways of staying in touch with their loved ones that do not involve visiting in-person. Where in-person visits do happen, follow current guidelines on essential visitors.
  • Ensure your COVID-19 Safety Plan is completed and posted in the workplace and online if you have a website.

Home Care & Community Support (click to learn more)


I am a home and community support worker


  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand rub, when entering and leaving a client’s home, and before and after contact with the client or their belongings.
  • Know how to properly put on and take off personal protective equipment, such as gloves, surgical masks, eye protection, and gowns. If you need a refresher or more information, ask your manager.
  • In advance of visiting, ask the client if they have new or worsening shortness of breath, cough or fever, fatigue, sore throat, runny nose, muscle aches, or if anyone in their household has been sick recently.
  • Ask if the client or a client’s family member has recently travelled to, or had contact, with someone who has travelled internationally.
  • If any of the above are suspected, call your supervisor and ask for direction.
  • If you have travelled internationally, you should self-isolate for 14 days unless you are deemed essential. You should self-monitor for symptoms. The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some people with the virus may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhoea  (World Health Organization).
  • At the first sign of any illness, you should NOT visit a client’s home.
  • If you have a fever, dry cough, or difficult breathing, or are otherwise feeling unwell, contact Health Link BC at 811 before visiting your doctor’s office or hospital Emergency.
  • Visit the BC Centre for Disease Control for more information.

I receive home support


  • Wash your hands with soap and water regularly for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand rub
  • If you have new or worsening shortness of breath, cough or fever, fatigue, sore throat, runny nose, or muscle aches, or someone in your household is sick, contact your home support worker in advance of their visit, so they are prepared.
  • If you have a household member who has recently travelled to or had contact with someone who has travelled internationally, let your home support worker know.
  • If you have travelled internationally, self-isolate for 14 days. Self-monitor for symptoms. The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some people with the virus may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea  (World Health Organization).
  • If someone in your household is sick, have them stay in a separate room away from where care is being provided by your support worker. If that’s not possible, have the member of your household wear a mask for the duration of the visit and have them wash their hands.

I am a Manager


  • Have surveillance mechanisms in place to catch potential cases early. Ensure this takes into account staff, members of clients’ households and clients.
  • Ensure staff are properly trained in infection prevention and control practices. Have refreshers, so staff feel comfortable knowing the protocols.
  • Preferably in advance of their visit, encourage your home support workers to ask the client if they have new or worsening shortness of breath, cough or fever, fatigue, sore throat, runny nose, muscle aches, if anyone in their household is currently sick, or if anyone has travelled internationally recently. If they answer yes to any of these questions, have your staff contact you for further direction.
  • Ensure clients and their family members are aware of your organization’s policies and practices around infection prevention and control.
  • Support your staff if they identify unsafe situations and respond to those concerns.
  • While it may be challenging for staff scheduling, don’t encourage workers to come to work if they are unwell.
  • Ensure staff have the necessary training and equipment to stay safe and healthy.
  • If staff members have travelled internationally, communicate that they must self-isolate for 14 days upon their return and monitor themselves for symptoms, and that they should not report to work unless they are deemed essential.
  • Ensure that you are aware of personal protective equipment guidelines for Home Care.
  • Ensure your COVID-19 Safety Plan is completed and posted in the workplace and online if you have a website.

Alternative Personal Protective Equipment Suppliers

SafeCare BC provides the following information to assist organizations to locate alternate suppliers of personal protective equipment (PPE) during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is not an exhaustive list, as there may be other alternate suppliers of PPE. SafeCare BC does not in any way vet or endorse the alternate suppliers or the products they offer.  

Visit our Alternative Suppliers page for more information. 

Additional Resources


Regular updates about COVID-19:

World Health Organization resources on COVID-19:

BC Centre for Disease Control:

Public Health Agency of Canada:

WorkSafeBC:

COVID-19 Symptoms Self-Assessment Tool:

Hand-washing practices:

General information on protective equipment:

Fit testing:

Posters:

SafeCare BC Documents:


Care for Caregivers


Care for Caregivers is an online resource established in response to the 2020 COVID – 19 pandemic to provide support for the dedicated healthcare workers who support others. Designed specifically for professional care providers and the leadership team who supports them, Care for Caregivers provides resources and targeted support for COVID –19 related mental health stressors. This initiative represents a partnership between the Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division and SafeCare BC, and is proudly supported by the BC Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions.

Care for Caregivers provides:

  • A diverse collection of quick and easy resources to support your mental health.
  • Free webinars
  • Peer support through Care to Speak

Visit Care for Caregivers