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How we're preparing for novel coronavirus

Posted Jan 31st, 2020

La préparation face au nouveau coronavirus

Our Infection Prevention and Control protocols are in place at all times and are heightened as needed.

We continue to monitor the situation regarding the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19), and we are fully confident in our team and in our hospital readiness plan for a potential case at any of our sites.

“While the risk to Ontarians is low, we are taking added precautions to ensure a safe patient and work environment for all,” says Dr. Karim Ali, Director, Division of Infectious Diseases & Antimicrobial Stewardship Program and Lead Physician for Emergency Preparedness. “Niagara Health is currently screening patients at all of our sites for the coronavirus, and based on medical condition and travel history, we will arrange for testing.”

We’re working closely with Niagara Region Public Health and other partners to ensure the health and well-being of our patients, visitors, staff, physicians, volunteers and learners and the community at large.

We’d like to remind people of the following precautions to stay healthy and prevent the spread of illness:

  • Wash your hands often
  • Avoid shaking hands and close contact with people who are sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze: With a tissue or into your sleeve
  • Stay home if you are sick

Frequently Asked Questions about novel coronavirus

What is the novel (new) coronavirus?

On January 7, 2020 Chinese health authorities confirmed a new coronavirus in Hubei Province, China (including Wuhan). On January 30, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a global health emergency. The WHO’s declaration does not change the protocols and practices in place across Niagara at this time.

What is the risk to get the virus?

Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health says the overall risk in Ontario is considered low.

What are the symptoms?

Common signs of infection include:

  • Respiratory symptoms
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing

What should you do if you think you have the novel coronavirus?

If you have travelled to mainland China within 14 days and develop symptoms, avoid contact with others and contact your healthcare provider.

Niagara Region Public Health asks that you call ahead to allow healthcare staff to take appropriate precautions.

What measures is Niagara Health (NH) taking to prevent transmission of the virus?

All patients who come to the hospital are screened for acute respiratory illness and asked about their travel history. This process has been in place since the early 2000s.

We’re currently screening patients at all of our sites for the coronavirus and, based on medical condition and travel history, we will arrange for testing. Appropriate precautionary measures will be taken for patients undergoing testing.

Any testing would be done in consultation with Niagara Region Public Health and Public Health Ontario.

I am coming to the hospital. Do I need to wear a mask?

If you have symptoms of a respiratory illness – fever, cough, runny nose – a face mask should be worn to protect others. A mask will be provided to you when you present to the triage nurse at our Emergency Departments and Urgent Care Centres.

Practising good hand hygiene and respiratory and cough etiquette are the best ways to prevent respiratory illness. 

Is there any impact on hospital services?

There are no restrictions or changes at this time to clinics or services at any of our sites. Our hospital is safe for patients, visitors and staff.

Niagara Health System