BC is considering allowing COVID-positive healthcare professionals to work

To avoid further strain on BC’s healthcare system, the province says it is considering allowing COVID-positive healthcare professionals to continue working in a certain capacity, even after being tested positive for the virus.

“We expect that we will see increased absenteeism given the transfer rates we see in the community,” said Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry at a news conference Wednesday.

Henry says the idea is still being investigated by officials and that they may get an update soon.

“We’re looking at fitness for work for people who have mild illness in the healthcare sector,” Henry said.

BC’s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says the province is considering allowing COVID-positive health workers to return to work. (James Mulleder / CBC)

“We need to look at what measures need to be in place to ensure that people who have a very mild illness or are asymptomatic are able to perform work in the essential work environments, if necessary, said Henry.

While the idea of ​​having COVID-positive workers at work is still being discussed, it is already receiving setbacks from some in the healthcare system.

In a statement to CBC, the Hospital Employee’s Union, which represents more than 50,000 healthcare professionals in BC, said while agreeing that the impact of Omicron could lead to “further staff shortages and compromise patient care … it’s important to protect vulnerable patients and other workers by staying home when they are symptomatic. “

“In addition, we are concerned that some workers with mild symptoms may put their own health at greater risk by working instead of resting and recovering,” union secretary general Meena Brisard said in the statement.

A nurse hands out a cotton swab to a COVID-19 rapid self-test at a test center in Montreal. (Paul Chiasson / The Canadian Press)

Hospital Employee’s Union says the province needs to talk to health care unions while officials consider the “significant” change.

Henry said the province was closely monitoring the situation in Quebec, where the number of admissions has increased rapidly. In BC, the number of people in the hospital due to COVID-19 has remained relatively stable despite an increase in new cases.

On Tuesday, Quebec decided to allow some infected workers to return to their jobs on a case-by-case basis. So on Wednesday, Manitoba announced that it is now allowing healthcare professionals who have mild COVID-19 symptoms but have tested negative for the virus to return to work.

Ontario officials have said they are considering similar measures, while Alberta has allowed unvaccinated health care professionals to continue working on regular tests.

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