Information to help support you as a healthcare provider in the community in our region.

A new coronavirus is causing respiratory infections mostly in Hubei Province, China. BC has a confirmed case of the novel coronavirus; however the risk to British Columbians continues to be low. All necessary precautions are being taken to prevent the spread of infection. We have multiple systems in place to prepare for, detect and respond to prevent the spread of serious infectious diseases in the province.

Below are some frequently asked questions and responses to help support you as a healthcare provider in our region.

  • I am a health care worker and a patient has presented to our worksite who recently returned from travel to China and is symptomatic. What personal protective equipment (PPE) should I be wearing?

    Isolate the patient using contact and droplet precautions (including eye protection).

    Additional precautions including N95 respirators should be used during aerosol generating medical procedures, including nasopharyngeal aspirate or bronchoscopy collection.

  • Where do I send patients to get tested?

    We recommended that patients be tested promptly at the location where they present. Forwarding patients to local emergency departments is not appropriate.

    Please ensure that you have proper signage, the required swabs, and personal protective equipment (PPE) at your location so that you can appropriately assess and manage patients.

     

  • Should I test patients that traveled to China but do not have respiratory illness symptoms?

    No.

    If a person presents with non-respiratory illness symptoms, please consider other diagnoses and treat appropriately.

    The reported symptoms for novel coronavirus include mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.

  • What do I do if I have a patient with compatible symptoms (e.g. fever, cough, or difficulty breathing) AND exposure history?

    Consider testing for:

    • Patients with compatible symptoms (e.g. fever, cough, or difficulty breathing) AND
    • History of travel to affected areas (as of Feb. 24, 2020, affected areas include: China, Japan, Italy, Iran, South Korea, and Singapore) within 14 days prior to illness onset OR other index of suspicion (e.g., contact with an ill person with travel to affected areas, contact with a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19).

    For these patients:

    • Give the patient a surgical mask to wear and place the patient in a separate room
    • Use contact and droplet precautions (gloves, gowns, surgical mask and eye protection) particularly during sample collection
    • Test for novel coronavirus (see below)
    • Notify the Medical Health Officer on-call, while the patient is still present, where there is a high index of suspicion. This includes patients with severe respiratory presentations (particularly lower respiratory symptoms) AND travel to affected areas (as of Feb. 24, 2020, affected areas include: China, Japan, Italy, Iran, South Korea, and Singapore) in the last 14 days before illness onset OR
    • Respiratory symptoms AND
      • Travel to Hubei province in the 14 days before onset of illness OR
      • Close contact with a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19 within 14 days before their illness onset
    • If the patient is well enough to return home, discharge the patient with a surgical mask and advise the patient to isolate at home. Home Isolation instructions are available in EnglishChinese (Simplified)Chinese (Traditional) and Punjabi.
    • Confirm the patient’s contact information.
    • Inform the patient to call the BCCDC Coronavirus Hotline (1-833-707-2792) to receive their results and guidance regarding self-isolation if swab results are negative. Should the swab results be positive, Public Health provides follow-up.

    A Medical Health Officer is available 24/7 and can be reached during business hours at 604-587-3828 or 1-877-342-6467 (M-F, 0830-1630 hrs). After hours, please call 604-527-4806.

  • How do I test for novel coronavirus?

    Obtain a nasopharyngeal (NP) swab and throat swab under Droplet and Contact precautions – including eye protection as part of droplet precautions.

    Send both swabs to the BCCDC Provincial Laboratory (for consultation regarding testing, please call the BCCDC PHL Medical Microbiologist on-call at 604-661-7033)

    Specimen Container Collection
    Nasopharyngeal washing or swab
    COPAN with UNIVERSAL TRANSPORT MEDIA (UTM)**

    These containers may be with red or blue tops and contain a pink liquid
    NP collection kit includes flocked swab and a tube of transport medium.

    Insert the swab approximately 6 cm with a slow, steady motion along the floor of the nose until a point of resistance is met (2/3 of the distance from nostrils to external opening of ear). Rotate the swab several times and then withdraw the swab.

    Insert the swab into the transport vial, snap off the stem and close tightly before sending to laboratory
     Throat swab COPAN with UNIVERSAL TRANSPORT MEDIA (UTM)**

    These containers may be with red or blue tops and contain a pink liquid
    Swab back of throat near tonsils (if present) using the collection swab

    Insert the swab into the transport vial, snap off the stem and close tightly before sending to laboratory.

  • How is novel coronavirus treated?

    Currently, there is no specific treatment for novel coronavirus.