British Columbia’s top doctor does not rule out allowing COVID-19-positive workers to return to work as the province’s health system strains during the latest wave of the pandemic.
Quebec announced Tuesday that it would allow some infected workers to return as it struggles with thousands of employees reporting sick amid a rise in both new case numbers and hospitalizations.
Manitoba and Ontario have both said they are looking at similar measures, while Alberta has allowed unvaccinated health care professionals back on the job, provided they undergo regular testing.
Quebec outlines the conditions under which healthcare workers with COVID-19 can return to work
Provincial health worker Dr. Bonnie Henry said BC officials were looking into the possibility of allowing some healthcare professionals with mild symptoms to return to work if necessary.
“This is something we have had preliminary plans for, but we are working with the occupational health and safety people to ensure that we have these criteria identified for health professionals, and to make sure that we also have plans to be able to replace other workers and move workers around. needs, ”said Henry.
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“Obviously, if someone is ill, whether it’s with COVID or another disease, we do not want them in a workplace because it is a risk to others, but there are certain frameworks where we have to make sure, that we have that balance between continuity of care. “
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Henry said the county was still investigating what criteria would allow workers back to work, but looked at cases involving mild or no symptoms that would allow them to work safely.
Under the Quebec model, staff must be looked at on a case-by-case basis, with the possibility of a shortened isolation period for staff testing positive, depending on the type of exposure, test results and their vaccination status.
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“If a healthcare professional needs to be isolated, we want to make sure they isolate themselves in the least amount of time they would not be at risk of infecting people, and we see that the guidelines are changing around the world,” the Vancouver doctor said. Dr. Birinder Narang.
If BC were to adopt such a system, Narang said it would have to take into account test results, symptoms and high-quality masking to minimize any risk after isolation.
BC Nurses’ Union says it is in talks with the province about the problem, but expressed concern over sending its members back to work before they have fully recovered from illness.
Quebec allows some COVID-19 infected healthcare workers to stay on the job
“Why should we demand that a nurse who is ill and not feeling well go to work? She must have time, or he, to heal and recover, ”said BCNU’s interim vice president Danette Thomsen.
Thomsen said there is no doubt that hospitals lack staff around BC, but said the province should take more steps to prevent workers from getting sick in the first place, such as enforcing vaccine passes on health facilities and giving all nurses N95 -classified masks.
Despite the increase in new cases in BC, the number of admissions has remained relatively stable so far.
Henry said on Wednesday that early evidence from around the world suggests that fewer vaccinated people receiving the Omicron variant become seriously ill, but that there was still not enough evidence to be sure.
She said the province was closely monitoring Quebec, which has seen its hospitalization rate rise rapidly.
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