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N.B. doctors say infection control works – with the public's help
SAINT JOHN, N.B. -- Individuals on the front lines of New Brunswick's fight against COVID-19 are calling on the community to help slow the spread of the virus. With 11 cases currently in the province, and the province's chief medical officer expecting more, doctors in New Brunswick have issued a warning.
"If the public does not adhere to these measures, our health care system will be overwhelmed," says Moncton Hospital chief of staff, Dr. Ken Gillespie. "It will be our patients and our staff that ultimately pay the price for the decisions that the public makes."
After New Brunswick declared its COVID-19 situation a state of emergency on Thursday, recommendations became requirements. While health officials with Horizon Health Network say the hospitals are ready, the community has to step up to help.
Experts note that because there aren't vaccines or therapies for COVID-19, infection control is currently the only effective tool in the fight against the virus.
"Think of yourself as a goalie – all of these infection control maneuvers are designed to prevent hockey pucks from coming at you," says infectious disease specialist, Dr. Gordon Dow. "If a hockey puck gets in your goal, the hospital is ready to help you, so you win the game."
Dow notes infection control is effective when done properly. He says New Brunswick was able to put a stop to measles, which is much more transmissible than COVID-19, when an outbreak occurred in the province. He also adds that China has leveled off its COVID-19 cases with infection control.
In addition, Dow recommends residents be vigilient when coughing or sneezing and advises them to clean their living environments often during the outbreak.
"Droplets are large. If you cough or sneeze, if someone is within six feet, you will infect them," says Dow. "Contact is just as important as droplet; they land on surfaces, how long does it last? If porous, a day – if plastic, three days.
Concerning supplies, Horizon Health Network says it currently has around half a million N95 respirator masks and four million regular masks. In N.B., there are presently around 160 ventilators, and 50 per cent more have been ordered.
"We're also sort of looking at other ways we can increase our capacity to look after patients that have these types of serious respiratory illnesses," Gillespie.
Meanwhile, in addition to the many efforts being made, Horizon Health Network has set up an assessment clinic at the Moncton Hospital, which has run for nearly a week. With the clinic seeing many patients assessed from the comfort of their vehicles, it's a new and creative step in the region's fight against a fast moving pandemic