Shortage of COVID-19 protective gear at hospitals, care homes

Grant Boone
March 26, 2020

"The number of cases we've been seeing will continue to rise - it will", said Dix.

She noted that "on the positive side, we now have 183 people who have fully recovered from COVID-19 in BC".

Henry said 64 people are in hospital, of which 26 people are in intensive care.

But some of the people who were exposed before the social distancing measures were ordered will develop the disease in the next week to 10 days, Henry said.

"The 'burn rate, ' as we call it, is much higher than we would have expected", she said. "We are still in the waiting and watching phase".

To date, all 14 deaths from the virus in B.C. have been in patients over 70. The province is also banning evictions and rent increases until the crisis has passed.

"That shows us that most people can be managed at home and are recovering".

"Particularly, when we look at our epidemic curve, we want to see that the onset of illness of people - the new cases starting - is going down, and we actually won't know that for a few days, so it's a hard position to be in".

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In terms of the other care homes that have been dealing with outbreaks, Henry said there are no new cases at the Lynn Valley Care Centre, but it is where the most recent death has occurred. Fifty-five health care workers at the facilities have the disease, she said.

However, a ninth long-term care home, the Broadway Pentecostal Lodge in Vancouver, has reported a case of the illness, and cases at the Haro Park Centre, also in Vancouver, have increased, as 27 staff members and 28 residents have tested positive for COVID-19 as of Wednesday.

"We are absolutely testing and contact tracing anybody for whom we don't know the source of their infection", she said.

"So we are coming up with a provincial, central strategy that provides a consistent approach to all facilities across the province focusing on the Lower Mainland right now", she said Wednesday. Public health officials are providing staff support to implement outbreak protocols.

In a Facebook post, Meghan Desnoyer said there was a "critical shortage of personal protective equipment - masks, gowns, face shields, and sanitizers" and appealed for donations of such items. "This happened quite quickly".

But both he and Henry emphasized that physical distancing measures are crucial now to prevent a surge in demand from overwhelming the health care system in the coming weeks.

Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health had already put in place similar orders requiring workers to be limited to one facility.

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