Monday, May 16, 2022

B.C.’s top doctor warns businesses that a third of the workforce could soon be sick

“Anyone who can work from home, you should be able to do that,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry warned Tuesday that the Omicron version is now driving most of the COVID-19 cases in B.C. and spreading rapidly, with hospitalization and critical care rates “slowly”. – crawling slowly”. The workforce can get sick at home.

“Anyone who can work from home, you should be able to do that,” Henry said. “Whether you are a private company, a school, a front-line business or a health care site, now is the time for us to prepare.”

On Tuesday, the province reported 2,542 new cases of COVID-19, including 360 in the island health zone, which now has 3,113 active cases. B.C. reports four new COVID-19 deaths, including two in island health.

Of the 27,106 active cases of COVID-19 in the province, 298 are in hospital and 86 are in intensive care – 220 in hospital and 73 in intensive care as of Friday.

“In the tug-of-war of transmission, Omicron has the advantage, and we see that rapidly increasing number of cases we’re seeing here and we’re seeing around the world,” Henry said.

During a media briefing, Henry warned businesses to put in place a contingency plan for employee illnesses over the next few weeks, noting Omicron’s high transmission rate and short incubation period — with Delta down from six, three. average of days.

“We need to estimate that a third of your employees may be sick with COVID-19 at any given time, and they may not be able to come to work,” Henry said. She notes that the latest strain is hard to detect, as it causes mild upper respiratory symptoms that can be similar to a cold or influenza, at least initially. “We need to optimize businesses so that we can operate in these small numbers.”

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For at least the next few weeks, businesses should reactivate their COVID-19 protection plans, said Henry, who encouraged businesses to implement vaccination mandates and required employees to declare their vaccination status .

Those unable to work would include health care workers and teachers, he said, affecting hospitals and schools.

“For most of us, thankfully because of our vaccinations, it will be mostly mild illness,” Henry said. “But interruptions in our business continuity are something we need to think about more carefully now.”

Vaccinated people who test positive for COVID are advised to remain in isolation for at least five days or until their fever breaks and their symptoms improve. They will have to wear masks for an additional five days. Unvaccinated people will have to isolate for at least 10 days.

Henry said last week the decision to ease the need for self-isolation came as a significant number of health care workers were forced to stay home from work because of illness.

He said that workplaces need to ensure that vaccinations, proper use of well-fitted three-layer masks, maintaining distance, having fewer people in the same place at the same time and avoidance of staggered shifts, he said. All COVID safety measures are in place, including day or start times and breaks. Times.

Henry said vaccination won’t prevent everyone from becoming infected with Omicron, but it will significantly reduce the chances of serious illness and long hours off work.

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“That means we can come back after that short five-day isolation period, and it means the risk of having long-term symptoms is reduced.”

Henry urged employers to ensure that multiple staff members were not eating lunch together in small, poorly ventilated rooms, and reminded those who felt isolated and attended any gatherings. Shouldn’t be, no matter how small.

Testing capacity has been overwhelmed and it needs to be limited to people with underlying risk factors who are vulnerable to severe disease, she said.

Since booster shots are given six months after the second shot, essential workers, including grocery store workers and teachers, will not be given priority for boosters, but because they received their initial COVID vaccines sooner than others, they Your boosters will be found more quickly. , said Henry.

Robert Jay, vice president of Fairway Markets, said that so far, stores have not experienced an increase in staff shortages due to the Omicron version.

“We are concerned about the spread of the Omicron variant, but we have had procedures in place from day one. We will maintain those safety precautions,” Jay said.

Henry said “everything” British Columbians have done so far to protect themselves from COVID-19 has made a difference. “So many people in BC are getting vaccinated or getting our booster shots and using those many layers of protection to keep distance, wear masks, stay home if we are feeling unwell – it is the right thing to do.”

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

Nation World News Desk
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