Information to help support you as a Fraser Health employee

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.

Personal protective equipment

  • I work in the community with a patient who is asymptomatic, but was told to self-isolate due to close contact with a confirmed case, what should I do?

    Health Care Workers should perform a risk assessment before the provision of care. The point of care risk assessment is based on judgement about the clinical situation and the patient’s environment.

    For more information, please contact your manager. 

  • I interact with a lot of individuals who are coughing and sneezing. Should I wear a mask?

    If you are interacting with an individual who has flu-like symptoms, please encourage them to put on a mask, and use hand sanitizer. If masks are not available in your immediate area, please ask a clinical staff member, or a triage nurse (in the emergency department), to provide a mask.

    Please follow routine protocols, as protocols for respiratory viruses commonly circulating during the winter months are already in place in Fraser Health, and these protocols will protect Fraser Health employees, volunteers, and patient partners against the novel coronavirus. 

    For more information contact your site Infection Prevention and Control Practitioner. You can also access the IPC section of the Fraser Health Pulse website (internal link; must be signed in to Fraser Health network to access)

  • I have a lot of patients presenting with symptoms of influenza-like illness. Should I wear a mask?

    Please follow routine protocols, as protocols for respiratory viruses commonly circulating during the winter months are already in place in Fraser Health and these will protect healthcare workers against the novel coronavirus. 

    By following current Infection Prevention and Control best practices, you will be safe. Regular handwashing, coughing or sneezing into your elbow, and disposing of tissues appropriately are important ways to prevent the spread of respiratory illness. 

    • Staff must always do a point of care risk assessment when assessing a patient
    • Ask patients with respiratory symptoms to put on a mask and perform hand hygiene (ABHR)
    • Isolation patients with symptoms of respiratory illness: fever, new or worsening cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, headache, muscle pain or malaise
    • Use Droplet/Contact precautions, including performing hand hygiene, donning a gown, a procedure mask, a face shield and gloves, if within 2 meters of a patient with respiratory symptoms
    • Observe airborne precautions for any aerosol generating procedures (refer to Aerosol Generating Procedures (AGP) in Acute Care SOP - internal link; must be signed in to the Fraser Health network to access).  
    • Be current with N95 fit testing (tested within the last 12 months).

    For more information contact your site Infection Prevention and Control Practitioner. You can also access the IPC section of the Fraser Health Pulse website (internal link; must be signed in to Fraser Health network to access)

     
  • Should registration staff wear a mask and gloves for handling the patient's care card?

    No. Registration staff do not need to wear PPE. However, if in direct contact with ill patients, perform hand hygiene frequently.

  • Do I need a surgical mask or N95 respirator?

    As with other respiratory infections, droplet and contact precautions should be taken, as per established infection, prevention, and control protocols. 

    For aerosol generating medical procedures, a N95 respirator should be used.

  • I need to perform a task that requires the use of a respirator and have not been fit-tested in the last year. What should I do?

    Do not proceed and notify your supervisor/manager.

  • I am a health care worker and do not know my N95 fit-test status. What should I do?

    Refer to the Fit-Test Report to determine your current status. Your manager will also be able to advise you. (Internal link - opens in new window when signed in to Fraser Health network)

  • I need a fit-test. How do I get fit-tested?  

    You have two options:
    (internal links; you will need to be signed in to Fraser Health's internal network to access)

    1. Attend a drop-in fit-test session. 
    2. Have your department-trained fit-tester (if applicable) complete a fit-test for you. 

Patient care

  • Where do I send patients to get tested?

    We recommended that patients be tested promptly at the location where they are present.

    Forwarding patients to local emergency departments is not appropriate.

  • 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.

  • Should I test all patients with influenza-like illness symptoms for coronavirus?

    No. Clinicians should test 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).

  • 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. 

Occupational health

  • A healthcare worker colleague advised me that they recently returned from travelling in China. They are asymptomatic. Can they return to work?

    If the health care worker travelled and returned from Hubei Province (which includes Wuhan City), we recommend they self-isolate for 14 days from when they left Hubei Province.

    Self-isolation instructions include:

    • Stay home except to get urgent medical care 
      Do not go to work, school, or public areas (e.g. places of worship, stores, shopping malls, and restaurants). Cancel non-urgent appointments. Do not use public transportation or taxis.
    • Separate yourself from other people in your home
      Stay and sleep in a well-ventilated room separate from other people. Use a separate bathroom if available. Use a face mask in shared spaces. Restrict visitors.
    • Avoid sharing household items 
      Do not share dishes, cups, eating utensils, towels, bedding, or other items with people in your home.
    • Clean household and common items, and frequently touched surfaces.
    • Wear a facemask when you have symptoms 
      Especially when visiting a health care facility.
    • Wash your hands 
      Wash your hands often and thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use disposable paper towels when possible.
    • Monitor your symptoms 
      Seek medical attention if you have trouble breathing, are unable to tolerate fluids, or if your illness is worsening.

    The health care work can return to normal activities after 14 days if they have not developed any symptoms. 

    If the health care worker returned from another area of China (not Hubei Province) they do not need to self-isolate and can return to work, but should self-monitor for symptoms, such as fever, cough or difficulty breathing. Those who start feeling unwell should see their healthcare provider. 

    If the health care worker needs more information they can call the Communicable Disease Public Health Nursing Intake line (604) 507-5471 during regular business hours, or the Medical Health Officer on-call after hours.

     
  • A healthcare worker colleague advised me that they had contact with a suspect case while at work and is wondering what the next steps are in the event that this case is confirmed? 

    In the event that this is a confirmed case, Population and Public Health will work in collaboration with Workplace Health and Safety to initiate contact tracing of health care workers as per the direction of the Medical Health Officer.

  • Have Fraser Health employees been quarantined?

    Yes. At this time a small number of Fraser Health employees have been quarantined. We are following all Workplace Health processes, policies, and guidelines to ensure the safety of our employees and the health of our patients.