FILE - A man wears a mask as a precaution against the spread of the new coronavirus COVID-19 after his plane landed at the Sao Paulo International Airport in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

B.C. care providers say masks, medical supplies ‘drying up’ due to COVID-19 concerns

Seniors care providers urge the public: ‘Stop buying masks!’

Associations representing care providers in B.C. are reminding healthy British Columbians not to hoard medical supplies, such as surgical and heavy-duty N95 masks.

In a release on March 5, the BC Care Providers Association and SafeCare BC said supplies of masks and gloves for B.C. care providers are “drying up” and costs are “spiking.”

SafeCare BC said it surveyed its members and found more than half of respondents (57 per cent) were having issues ordering personal protective equipment, such as masks, gloves and hand sanitizer.

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BCCPA CEO Daniel Fontaine added that care home operators have reported increasing difficulty obtaining items such as surgical masks and gloves, due to the surge in public demand caused by concerns over the coronavirus disease.

“Every report to date indicates that it is older people with underlying chronic health conditions — like those who are living in care homes — who are most susceptible to COVID-19,” Fontaine said. “It is therefore imperative that we keep workers, seniors and their family members safe.”

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To maintain the flow of finite supplies to health care facilities and care homes, the associations said healthy people should “refrain from making unnecessary purchases or hoarding medical supplies.”

“When healthy people purchase items such as surgical masks, they are increasing the risk that care workers won’t have them at care homes or when they provide home care,” SafeCare BC CEO Jennifer Lyle said. “We’re encouraging everyone to refrain from purchasing medical supplies unless they are themselves ill and wanting to reduce the risk to other people.”

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Speaking at a media conference on March 6, Health Minister Adrian Dix said B.C. was going to be receiving a “large shipment of additional supplies in the coming days” and that distribution would be coordinated provincially.

Dix also said the province was ready to use emergency powers to protect the population, health workers and the health system’s capacity to help patients with other problems.



karissa.gall@blackpress.ca

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