The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions is warning that the federal public health agency’s guidelines to protect front-line health-care workers from outbreaks of diseases like the novel coronavirus don’t go far enough, and might be putting them and patients at risk.
The standards, which the Public Health Agency of Canada updated last week, lay out the precautions health-care workers should take when assessing and treating a patient with a possible case of the coronavirus, including what protective equipment should be used.
The public health agency has committed to updating the guidelines as they learn more about the disease the World Health Organization has named COVID-19, which has sickened more than 64,000 people worldwide.
Linda Silas, president of the labour organization, says the safety protocols are inadequate compared to those in Ontario and some other countries.
Silas said the standards assume the coronavirus can’t spread through the air — rather than through droplets — but she contends the science isn’t settled on that front and the government should be taking greater care until they can be 100 per cent sure.
“When we do not know, we have to go for the best precautions for workers,” said Silas.
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