Please see the following release from Keith Beecroft, Public Health Promoter at Peterborough Public Health, shared on Wednesday, April 13:
“Good afternoon everyone –
Apologies in advance for the length of this letter, but there are many important updates that we need you to be aware of.
I want to go back to a quote we referenced in the early days of the pandemic from Michael Leavitt who was the US Director of Health and Human Services: “The experience reminded me that pandemic planning is made even more difficult because anything you do to prepare in advance of a pandemic seems like an overreaction, and anything you say sounds alarmist. But after a pandemic starts, anything you have done to prepare seems inadequate.” It is with that sentiment in mind, that we share the following with you:
“It is clear that the sixth wave is continuing to surge and I remain very concerned for the health of our most vulnerable residents,” said Dr. Thomas Piggott, Medical Officer of Health. “I know this is not the news we wanted to hear before a long holiday weekend, but the safest course of action is to wear a mask and avoid social gatherings and high-risk settings.” We have simple and effective tools at our ready, and we are urging you to consider implementing as many of them as possible in your setting.
Today, we are moving from ‘high’ to ‘very-high’ on the COVID-19 Community Risk Index. (Please see this press release)
- All metrics are increasing, including provincial hospitalizations and ICU admissions
- Locally, there are 27 inpatients at PRHC with COVID-19
- Waste water indicators are higher now than they were at the peak of the January Omicron surge in the area served by PPH
Actions you can take:
- Masks are simple and effective ways to reduce the spread of COVID in your workplace. We are urging you to implement a workplace masking and vaccine policy.
- The vaccines for COVID are safe and effective. Ensuring you and your staff are up to date with their COVID vaccines will go a long way to protecting both the health of your team, the community, and the economy.
- The vaccine is proven to decrease the severity of illness should your staff become ill. Additionally, staff who are up to date on their COVID vaccines will require less time off should they become ill (i.e. 5 days off with 24h improving symptoms for vaccinated staff vs. 10 days off with improving symptoms for unvaccinated/under vaccinated staff).
- Please consider implementing a workplace vaccine policy for your staff
- Please ensure your staff stay home when they are ill or unwell.
- In the event that you or your staff are ill or unwell, or have been around others who are ill or unwell – consult ‘What to do if you’ve been exposed to COVID-19’ for next steps
- In the event that there is an outbreak at your workplace:
An outbreak in a workplace is defined as two or more cases in workers and/or other visitors, with a connection (e.g., same work area, same shift) within a 14-day period, where at least one case could have reasonably acquired their infection in the workplace.
Examples of reasonably having acquired infection in the workplace include:
- No known source of infection outside of the workplace (i.e., no known contact with a probable or confirmed case/outbreak outside of the workplace); OR
- Known exposure in the workplace.
Person A goes to their neighbor’s house for supper and a few days later develops COVID-19. During Person A’s ‘period of communicability’, Person A and Person Person B shared an office and had lunch together.
If Person B, with no other exposure to COVID-19, develops symptoms consistent with COVID-19, or tests positive for COVID-19, it would be considered a workplace outbreak.
If an employer is advised that a worker has an occupational illness due to an exposure at the workplace or that a claim has been filed with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), the employer must give notice in writing within four days to:
- the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development
- the workplace’s joint health and safety committee or health and safety representative
- the worker’s trade union (if applicable)
You may also wish to review COVID-19 Guidance: Workplace Outbreaks. Please report workplace outbreaks to PPH here.
Please note, these are not permanent measures we are asking for, but rather immediate strategies we can activate when they are warranted to reduce the burden on our health care system and protect each other – “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.
In broad strokes all of the above is capture here COVID-19 and workplace health and safety and here COVID-19 and the Occupational Health and Safety Act (the latter which details employer obligations to reduce the spread of COVID-19 at workplaces).
Health Canada has produced this checklist that can also be used to guide you through the process of working together safely: Reducing COVID-19 risk in community settings: A tool for operators
In this constantly shifting world, we continue to be grateful for your partnership and dedication to protecting our community.
We hope this helps, even a little – please be in touch if we can help with or clarify anything else.