Information about the novel coronavirus (named COVID-19) – a respiratory pneumonia-like disease first reported in Wuhan, China.

 

A message from the Chief Medical Health Officer

Friday, February 28, 2020 – Our Emergency Response Structure

I am committed to keeping you up to date on work taking place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 here in the Fraser Health region as well as planning underway with our provincial counterparts.  

At Fraser Health we still have two cases and both patients are isolated and doing well. Provincially we remain at seven cases and all cases continue to recover in isolation at home and under care by public health teams. Of these seven people, the first individual has recovered, as indicated by the resolution of symptoms followed by two successive negative test results 24 hours apart. In the province, there have been 677 individuals and 996 samples tested as of February 21, 2020.  

BC’s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry shared recently that we are preparing for all possibilities that may occur in the coming weeks, including the possibility of a pandemic.  At  Fraser Health we will be taking the same proactive approach. In order to support this work, we have a regional Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) that has representation of all areas of our organization to assist with the planning. This includes all sides of clinical and corporate business areas as well as Health Emergency Management BC (HEMBC). 

As the incident commander for the EOC, I will continue to share updates with you as we move forward.  Our regional EOC is part of a broader system, connected to the Provincial Coordinating Committee and the also to the federal level so we are all working together in a coordinated manner. 

Fraser Health has strong experience and knowledge with other infectious disease outbreaks (e.g. Measles, pandemic influenza, SARS, Ebola), and we can rely on our existing response plans to support our work so we can be ready to scale up or down as required.

If you have any questions or concerns about COVID-19, please speak to your supervisor or review our updated Questions and Answers. You can also access the Infection Prevention and Control information on the Fraser Health Pulse website. (This is an internal link. You must be signed in to the Fraser Health network to access.)

I also would like to thank all of you who are part of the planning and those of you who are taking care of our patients with great care. Please ensure you are using appropriate PPE to protect yourselves and others.

Thank you for your continued support. 

Martin Lavoie
Vice President Population Health and 
Chief Medical Health Officer 
Fraser Health Authority
  • Update - February 24, 2020

    A second case of COVID-19 identified in Fraser Health

    Health Minister Adrian Dix and Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, announced another presumptive case of COVID-19 in Fraser Health this morning. You can read the full news release here.

    The person affected was in close contact with the previously reported sixth case announced on Feb. 20, 2020. Both cases remain in isolation at home with support and monitoring from public health teams. The individual is male, in his 40s and lives in the Fraser Health region. No additional identifying information is being provided due to the importance of maintaining patient confidentiality.

    Fraser Health Public Health is actively investigating and we have identified and contacted close contacts. Those who may be at risk are now in isolation for 14 days and are being actively monitored for symptoms daily.

    The risk of the spread of this virus within British Columbia continues to be low at this time.

    However, it is not surprising that in a health authority of our size that we have another case. We must all continue to use the proper recommended precautions to ensure that infections do not spread to staff, physicians, and to patients. These protocols are in place to keep us protected and those we care for.

    Based on the evidence to date, the primary route of transmission for COVID-19 is by droplets. Please remember the importance of using eye protection, gloves, hand hygiene and gowns (if there is a risk of sprays or splashes), along with a mask. For aerosol generating medical procedures, a N95 respirator should be used. Equally important is reducing droplets from patients by having them wear a procedural mask and instructing them in cough etiquette. 

    Please ensure you are familiar with the Droplet Precautions for Health Care Workers that can be found on Pulse(This is an internal link. You must be signed in to the Fraser Health network to access.). Strict adherence to Fraser Health infection prevention and control policies is critical to protect yourself and others.

    To ensure that everyone is fully aware of the protocols in place and able to correctly follow them, Fraser Health is in the process of developing some simulation exercises for Emergency Department staff. We will provide more information on this as it becomes available. 

    If you have any questions or concerns about infection prevention and control as it relates to COVID-19, please speak to your supervisor or review our updated Questions and Answers. You can also access the Infection Prevention and Control information on the Fraser Health Pulse website. (This is an internal link. You must be signed in to the Fraser Health network to access.)

  • Update - February 20, 2020

    In an effort to keep you informed and ensure you have the information you need, I want to provide you with an update about the novel coronavirus (named COVID-19 – its official name).

    The situation continues to evolve. The vast majority of cases continue to be identified in China, with a small proportion in other countries (26 countries so far). The number of new cases in China has been declining for a few weeks. The number of travellers coming back from China has also decreased.

    While encouraging, the situation can change very rapidly. We need to continue to be very vigilant, identify cases early and prevent spread of the infection.

    As an organization, we continue to be vigilant. We continue to provide guidance to front line staff and physicians in acute care and community facilities to help assess patients’ risk, provide advice to their patients, and test when any suspicion of risk is present. Many persons have been assessed in the last month, and many have been tested. Until today, British Columbia had identified 5 cases of COVID-19.

    A presumptive confirmed case in Fraser Health (sixth case in British Columbia)

    Today, Fraser Health has identified a presumptive confirmed case of COVID-19 in a young woman who returned to Canada from Iran on Saturday on February 15th. This is Fraser Health’s first presumptive confirmed case, seen in one of our Emergency Rooms on Sunday February 16th. This woman presented with mild influenza-like symptoms, was screened, tested and then sent home. She is doing well. We are doing the usual work of ensuring no exposure to the virus occurred while in our facility (staff, physicians, patients and volunteers), providing information to those involved, and addressing any concerns.

    The risk continues to below.

    Infection prevention and control (IPC) is key

    This is a reminder of the importance of using Infection Prevention and Control practices to protect us and those we care for. Using proper recommended precautions ensures infections do not spread to staff, physicians, and to patients. They keep us all safe, at all times.

    If you have any questions or concerns, we encourage you to speak with your supervisor and refer back to our Q&A as we update it.

    We are committed to keeping you informed. We have received a number of questions from staff and physicians. To help address these questions, please see our Q&A: www.fraserhealth.ca/employees/coronavirus/coronavirus-questions-and-answers

    Thank you for your continued support.

  • Update - Friday January 24, 2020

    In our effort to keep you informed and ensure you have the information you need, we want to provide you with an update about the novel coronavirus (named 2019-nCoV) – a respiratory pneumonia-like disease that was first reported in Wuhan, China. 

    At this time, the situation continues to evolve. Fraser Health Population and Public Health, Workplace Health, and Infection Prevention & Control teams are working closely with Public Health Agency of Canada and the BC Centre for Disease Control to monitor reports of atypical pneumonia caused by novel coronavirus. 

    As of this morning, there are 917 confirmed cases globally. The vast majority of these cases are in Mainland China (892 cases) with most of these cases in Wuhan. Outside of Mainland China, a limited number of cases have been reported from Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, Nepal, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam. Nearly all cases outside of China are related to travel to Wuhan.

    Despite the increase in the number of cases, the risk to Canadians continues to be low. That said, we should continue to be prepared and stay vigilant for possible cases.

    Fraser Health is working closely with provincial and federal partners to ensure that a structure and processes are in place to keep a close eye on this situation, to ensure our level of preparedness is high, and to respond to this situation if required.

    We are committed to keeping you informed. We have received a number of questions from staff and physicians. To help address these questions, please see our Q&A: www.fraserhealth.ca/employees/coronavirus/coronavirus-questions-and-answers

    We continue to learn new information about this coronavirus. As we get more information, we will provide you with updates. If you have any questions, we encourage you to speak with your supervisor and refer back to our Q&A as we update it.

    Thank you for your continued support. 

  • Update - Wednesday, January 22, 2020

    By now, you may have heard about the novel coronavirus (named 2019-nCoV) – a respiratory pneumonia-like disease that was first reported in Wuhan, China. Fraser Health is committed to sharing timely information with our staff and we will continue to keep you updated to ensure you have access to the information you need. 

    Currently, there are no reports of cases in Canada. The risk to Canada and to Canadians continues to be low. While the situation is evolving, as of January 22, there are approximately 552 confirmed cases worldwide of which the vast majority are in China. The few cases outside of China are all travel-related with links to Wuhan. 

    There are multiple systems in place to identify, prevent and control the spread of serious infectious diseases into and within Canada.
    The Public Health Agency of Canada and the BC Centre for Disease Control are monitoring the situation and providing guidance and support along with the World Health Organization and other international partners. 

    Our Population and Public Health and Infection Prevention and Control teams are working with our partners to closely monitor the situation, and we have requested that our physicians promptly isolate and report any suspected cases to our Medical Health Officers.

    If patients are seeking advice on this infectious disease, please encourage them to visit the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) website: http://www.bccdc.ca/about/news-stories/stories/2020/information-on-novel-coronavirus

    For respiratory viruses in general including 2019-nCoV, measures for preventing the spread include washing your hands often, isolating yourself when unwell, and practicing proper cough and sneeze etiquette. 

    In addition, for travelers, a travel notice from the Public Health Agency of Canada reminds travelers to contact their health care provider about their travel if they become ill after returning to Canada.

    Thank you for all you do in caring for our patients, families and communities, and for your important role in keeping them safe. Thank you also for taking care of your own health.