COVID-19 (coronavirus) Preparations: Update #3

On January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared coronavirus (COVID-19) a public health emergency of international concern and advised health-care providers to step up preparedness measures.

Since then, we have been fully engaged with the Ministry of Health, Public Health Ontario and the Porcupine Health Unit regarding all developments related to the Novel Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19).

In Canada, as of February 28, 2020 the risk level remains low.

Here’s what we have done so far to communicate and prepare:

Communications:

  1. Our leadership and management continues to engage in regular communications with the Porcupine Health Unit as part of the provincial system of monitoring and preparedness. We receive and share the most up-to-date information with our staff and coastal community leaders.
  2. We will continue to update communities via our Facebook page and direct emails to community health leaders.
  3. At this point in time, the risk level remains low for the James Bay and Hudson Bay region.

Preparedness plans:

  1. We have activated enhanced surveillance and screening measures for all patients accessing our facilities (began January 25, 2020).
  2. We will work with community partners for patient accommodation/placement in the event of hospital patient overflow.
  3. WAHA Managers and directors have ensured staff are up-to-date on the key preparedness activities, education and related best practices.
  4. WAHA staff are prepared to receive any patient with a respiratory illness of any kind, including the Novel Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19).
  5. We have carried out two mock coronavirus drills with staff as part of our preparation efforts (Screening, Isolating Patient, Mask, N95 and Donning (on and off) Personal Protective Equipment)
  6. We have supplied northern communities with hand sanitizer to keep at schools, band offices, stores and health centres.
  7. WAHA has also provided N95 mask fit testing at the Moose Cree Health Centre to support community preparedness . This was done at the request of Moose Cree Health Centre staff.

Self/family preparedness:

In general, the following advice can help reduce the risk of infection or spreading infection to others:

  1. Stay home if you are sick
  2. When coughing or sneezing:
    • Cover your mouth and nose with your arm to reduce the spread of germs
    • Dispose of any tissues you have used as soon as possible and wash your hands afterwards
  3. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  4. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
  5. Avoid visiting people in hospitals or long-term care centres if you are sick
  6. If you must travel, please review the Government of Canada website for travel advice/advisories