Health-care workers worry about supply of protective equipment
HALIFAX -- Healthcare workers in the Maritimes are concerned about whether they have enough protective gear on hand -- including those critically important N95 masks.
Dr. Chris Goodyear, the president of the New Brunswick Medical Society, is hearing that question more and more lately.
"I think it would help a lot of us if we could get more transparency in terms of what the government currently has in stock," Goodyear said.
On Friday, five Nova Scotia health care unions made a plea for information on how much of the equipment is available.
"Some days, they say the reason you can't have it because there's a global shortage of it, the next day we can't whatever it is because we don't need it," said Janet Hazelton, the Nova Scotia Nurses Union president.
"So which is it? Is it because we don't need or if there's not enough of it, because they're too different conversations and we need them to be honest with us."
Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, says there are national guidelines being developed by experts in infection control that guide infection control measures.
"We are using those in Nova Scotia and they include guidance on what type of masks and other personal protective equipment is required to keep healthcare workers safe."
While medical workers are trying to take stock of how much equipment they have, more and more people are covering their mouth and nose with a mask or other kind of fabric.
The official directive from the Public Health Agency of Canada has not changed, but Dr. Strang says the directive is being looked at again.
"So, even now, if the public is using a mask it's very important that they do not surgical grade masks," Strang said. "Those need to be preserved for those who truly need them."
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), you should wear a mask if you're front-line medical staff or showing symptoms of COVID-19.
However, the WHO confirms a panel with the organization is taking a look to see if that recommendation should change.
"Certainly, as we get updates from the WHOand research around the virus, there are going to be changes," Dr. Goodyear said. "That's not a failure of public health and public health officials, that's their job and that is what they're supposed to be doing."