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Woman does analyze in a laboratory
February 6, 2020

IMPORTANT NOTICE ABOUT CORONAVIRUS (ONTARIO)

Coronavirus: what you need to know

  • What’s the latest?

As of January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization declared coronavirus (2019 Novel Coronavirus or 2019-nCoV) a public health emergency of international concern. This means the organization has provided recommendations to all countries aimed at preventing or reducing cross-border spread of disease, while avoiding unnecessary interference with trade and travel.

As of February 5, 2020, five cases were confirmed in Canada—three in Ontario and two in British Columbia.

While additional procedures have been implemented in travel, the risk of exposure for Canadians and Canadian travelers remains low as indicated by the Public Health Agency of Canada .

Public health risk is continually reassessed as new information becomes available. Click here for more information about coronavirus and access to other Public Health Authorities.

As a result of WHO declaring the coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern, we have implemented a series of proactive measures as a precaution to limit the risk of further transmitting the virus.

Therefore, we regret that we will be unable to provide laboratory service to customers who have:

  • Fever and symptoms of lower respiratory illness or pneumonia, AND
  • Returned from China within the last 14-days OR:
  • Have had close contact with an ill individual who is under investigation in relation to the coronavirus outbreak.

If any of the above apply to you, please return immediately to your health care provider for further consultation.

 

  • What is the coronavirus?

This novel virus belongs to the family of coronaviruses. Coronaviruses form a large family of viruses, and the illnesses they cause can range from common cold to more severe diseases such as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

The overall risk for transmission of the coronavirus level remains low for Canadians, therefore, it is not necessary to take special precautions beyond the usual measures recommended to prevent other common respiratory viruses during the winter season. Regular handwashing, coughing or sneezing into your elbow sleeve, and disposing of tissues appropriately are important ways to prevent the spread of respiratory illness generally.

 

  • Am I at risk?

As indicated by the Public Health Agency of Canada, the risk of exposure to 2019-Novel Coronavirus is low for Canadian residents and Canadian travelers.

 

  • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

Symptoms for the Novel Coronavirus have included:

  • fever;
  • cough; and
  • difficulty breathing.

If you have traveled to China and develop symptoms of 2019 Novel Coronavirus infection, avoid contact with others and contact a health care professional.

 

  • I’m worried I may have been exposed or contracted the coronavirus. What do I do?

Please contact your primary physician or other health care provider for further assessment and consultation.

 

  • What is LifeLabs doing to prevent spread of the coronavirus?

We have implemented Active Screening Protocols with our patients and are redirecting patients with positive screens for suspected coronavirus back to their physicians. This implementation is in response to the recent escalation by World Health Organization (WHO), and it aligns with PHAC, Public Health and Provincial Health directives. In addition, we will not be providing service to patients who screen positive, which aligns with the practice of other community labs.

 

  • Are you testing patients for coronavirus?

LifeLabs cannot test patients for coronavirus as we do not complete Nasopharyngeal Swab collections, which is the preferred method of collection for suspected coronavirus.  We also do not have the appropriate laboratory facilities to complete diagnostic testing for coronavirus.

 

  • Is your waiting area safe?

The overall risk for transmission of the coronavirus level remains low for Canadians, therefore, it is not necessary to take special precautions beyond the usual measures recommended to prevent other common respiratory viruses during the winter season. Regular handwashing, coughing or sneezing into your elbow sleeve, and disposing of tissues appropriately are important ways to prevent the spread of respiratory illness generally.

We have implemented Active Screening Protocols with our patients and are redirecting patients with positive screens for suspected coronavirus back to their physicians. This implementation is in response to the recent escalation by World Health Organization (WHO), and it aligns with PHAC, Public Health and Provincial Health directives. We expect these screening protocols will minimize and/or eliminate the presence of patients with suspected coronavirus in our facilities.  

 

  • Why are your employees wearing a shield or mask when providing service?

Our employees are trained to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) when there is an escalated risk of transmission for any illness, including the common cold and flu.  Should patients present a risk of infection/ transmission, they would don the appropriate PPE for the type of risk presented. 

It is recommended to include the use of a plexiglass diver when actively screening patients for coronavirus. However, the design of our facilities does not support this implementation; therefore, our staff are using face shields instead to ensure everyone’s safety.

 

  • I get service from your mobile team, how do I know I’m safe?

Any additional Active Screening precautions we have implemented at our facilities are also applied to our mobile units.

 

  • I read something concerning on social media, is it true?

We understand social media is a valuable tool for quickly sharing information with others; however, it is very difficult to vet and filter that information for accuracy.

There have been numerous false reports circulating on social media. For the most accurate and up-to-date information about the coronavirus, please visit the Public Health Agency of Canada website.

 

NOTICE FOR PHYSICIANS:

Testing for 2019-nCoV PUIs requires prior approval by the PHO Laboratory before submission and ideally after a physician has seen the patient. For approval, contact PHO Laboratory’s Customer Service Centre at 416-235-6556/1-877-604-4567 or the After-Hours Emergency Duty Officer at 416-605-3113.

For more information on testing and collection, click here. 

For more information, please see the Public Health website.

National References:

World Health Organization  

Centre for Disease Control