Saturday, 27 Feb 2021

Coronavirus: Saskatchewan nurses union says it’s not getting proper protective gear

With Saskatoon’s second presumptive case of COVID-19, the province is planning to set up assessment facilities to test more people for the virus — but the nurses who’ll be on the front lines say they’re not being properly protected.

The problem is getting nurses a specific type of mask. N95 masks are the most effective protective wear, according to the president of the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses (SUN) Tracy Zambory.

They’re also in short supply.

“Nobody ever goes to work thinking they’re going to come away from work with a potential to pass away because they haven’t had the proper protective equipment on,” Zambory said.

SUN said it’s imperative their members have these masks to do their jobs. They’ve been offered surgical masks and eyewear instead.

Zambory said that’s not enough for nurses getting close to people who may be infected.

Tests are done through swabs up someone’s nostrils, something Zambory said often makes patients sneeze. Without proper protection, she worries about what could happen to front-line staff who get exposed.

“This is going to spread,” Zambory said.

“We will have a massive outbreak if we don’t take a step back, take a deep breath and realize that testing requires it, the people that are doing the tests, the confirmed and suspected cases require N95s.”

Concerned about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials say the risk is very low for Canadians, but they caution against travel to affected areas (a list can be found here). If you do travel to these places, they recommend you self-monitor to see whether you develop symptoms and if you do, to contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. And if you get sick, stay at home.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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