An ambulance paramedic in full protective gear works outside Lion’s Gate Hospital, March 23, 2020. (The Canadian Press)

Protective equipment coming in for B.C. health care workers in COVID-19

Portable tests coming for remote communities, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

With B.C. care homes for seniors and developmentally disabled people running out of masks, gowns and other protective equipment for the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, relief supplies are arriving, Health Minister Adrian Dix says.

At least one Easter weekend shipment has helped with more than 100,000 N95 respirators, 51,000 face shields and 1.2 million gloves. More are expected during the week but the ministry isn’t announcing them until they are in hand and approved for use.

“Our supply continues to arrive in amounts that is keeping us ahead of the need,” Dix said at a pandemic briefing April 13. “We would love to say we’re in a position that we’re flush for a long time. That is still no longer the case. We still have to work on this, both on the supply side and ensuring that we use personal protective equipment properly.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry imposed tighter restrictions on the use of disposable supplies to reduce the “burn rate” in facilities on heightened alert. She and Dix also thanked the Alberta government for its April 11 announcement it is sharing goggles, N95 masks, gowns and gloves with B.C., Ontario and Quebec. Alberta is also sharing its stock of ventilators, for assistance on people in intensive care with breathing failure.

RELATED: Alberta shares protective gear with B.C., Ontario, Quebec

RELATED: New testing machine takes load off B.C. medical labs

The B.C. crisis was highlighted by the release of a survey April 11 by SafeCareBC, a health and safety association that includes home care and disabled community living as well as senior long-term and assisted living operators.

As of the Easter weekend, the survey reported that 77 per cent had three days’ supply or less of N95 masks and 51 per cent said they were running out of eye protection. Sixty-two per cent reported aweek’s supply or less of hand sanitizer, 45 per cent had three days or less in exam gloves and 49 per were in the same situation with gowns.

Dix noted that the priority is on maintaining supply at hospitals and long-term care homes, and work continues to “meet needs in the full spectrum of health care.”

Henry was asked April 13 about Health Canada’s approval of a rapid COVID-19 tester made by Ottawa-based Spartan Bioscience. She said the Spartan machines are spoken for and not likely available for B.C. until this summer, but the B.C. Centre for Disease Control is using a similar test with machines that B.C. has.

“Our strategy right now is to deploy those to areas of the province where we have challenges with turnaround time and that has been rolled out over the next week ago,” Henry said. “This new test has very low capacity as well, so you can’t do a whole lot at once. It is also good for these types of things in more remote communities.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

No active confirmed COVID-19 cases in Interior Health: BCCDC

Numbers from the BCCDC’s dashboard show 193 of the 195 COVID-19 cases in the region have recovered

Historic Hat Creek finds novel way to keep part of site open

VIP shopping experience offers people private visit to site’s gift shop

Mobile harm reduction service making weekly trips to Cache Creek

Service provides free kits, instruction, information, and referrals to those who need it

Ashcroft food bank benefits from donation as demand increases

Community Futures Thompson Country provides much-needed cash donation

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Kelowna Mountie who punched suspect identified, condemned by sister

‘How did he get away with this? How is this justifiable?’

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park at large

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

IHIT names homicide victim found in the Fraser Canyon this week

Police asking for tips into the suspicious death of 29-year-old Alicia Berg

No charges to be laid against 22 northern B.C. pipeline protesters

Twenty-two people were arrested in February, but Crown has decided not to pursue charges

‘Great Regional Air Hug’ being organized by the Vanderhoof International Airshow Society

A multi-aircraft flyover over the region is being planned for August 15.

Plan in place for BC Ferries to start increasing service levels

Ferry corporation reaches temporary service level agreement with province

Most Read