British Columbia’s top doctor is not ruling out allowing COVID-19-positive workers to return to work, as the province’s health care system continues to strain under the latest wave of the pandemic.
Quebec announced Tuesday that it would allow some infected workers to return as it continues to call thousands of workers sick amid the number of new cases and hospitalizations.
Manitoba and Ontario have both said they are looking at similar measures, while Alberta has allowed unvaccinated health care workers to return to work, provided they undergo routine testing.
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Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said officials in B.C. were looking into the possibility of allowing some health care workers with mild symptoms to return to work if necessary.
“This is something we have preliminary plans for, but we are working with the occupational health and safety people to make sure we have the criteria we have identified for health care workers, and to make sure For that we have plans to be able to substitute others. Move workers and workers around as needed,” Henry said.
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“Obviously if someone is sick, whether it’s from COVID or some other disease, we don’t want them in a workplace setting because it’s a risk to others, but there are some settings where we need to make sure that our Near balance is continuity of care. ,
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Henry said the province was still investigating what criteria would allow workers to return to work, but was looking at cases with mild or no symptoms that would allow them to work safely. Will give
Under the Quebec model, employees should be seen on a case-by-case basis, depending on the type of exposure, test results and their vaccination status, with the potential for a shorter isolation period for employees who test positive. Is.
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“If a health care worker needs to isolate, we want to make sure they are isolating for the shortest possible time where they will not be at risk of infecting people, and we are looking at That guidelines are changing around the world. ,” said Vancouver physician Dr. Birinder Narang.
Narang said that if BC adopts such a system it should take into account test results, symptoms and high-quality masking to minimize any post-isolation risks.
The BC Nurses Union says it is in talks with the province about the issue, but expressed concerns about sending its members back to work before a full recovery from the illness.
Quebec allows some COVID-19 infected health workers to stay at work
“Why do we need a nurse who is sick and not feeling well to go to work? He should be given time to recover and recover, or he should,” said BCNU interim vice president Dennett Thomson.
Thomson said there is no question of staff shortages in hospitals around B.C., but added that the province should take more steps to prevent workers from getting sick, such as enforcing vaccine passports on health care facilities and requiring all nurses. to provide N95 rated mask.
Despite the increase in new cases in BC, the number of hospitalizations has remained relatively stable so far.
Henry said Wednesday that early evidence from around the world suggests that fewer vaccinated people who contract the Omicron variant are becoming seriously ill, but there was still not enough evidence to say for sure.
She said the province was closely monitoring Quebec, which has seen a rapid increase in its number of hospitalizations.
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