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P.E.I.'s chief of nursing says N95 respirator masks available

Chief health officer Dr. Heather Morrison, left, and chief of nursing Marion Dowling are shown during a media briefing on Monday in Charlottetown.
Chief health officer Dr. Heather Morrison, left, and chief of nursing Marion Dowling are shown during a media briefing on Monday in Charlottetown.


Marion Dowling, Health P.E.I.’s chief of nursing, says health-care staff engaged in testing for the coronavirus (COVID-19 strain) are being issued the proper protective equipment.

During a media briefing on Monday in Charlottetown, Marion Dowling said N95 respirator masks are currently available for the appropriate staff, if needed. The respirators filter out 95 per cent of particles, including bacteria and viruses.

Dowling said the respirators were available as per current guidelines.

“We follow the guidelines from the Public Health Agency of Canada which complies with what the World Health Organization is advising for those specific treatments or procedures where it is indicated,” Dowling said.

“We have moved to centralize our allocation of those masks to make sure we have them there for the staff who need them.”

Several health authorities in North America have experienced shortages of the N95 respirators, as well as other protective equipment, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. One Toronto hospital has begun accepting donations of the respirators due to a lack of supply.

Dowling said staff members are monitoring the province’s supply of protecting equipment daily.

On Friday, a media statement issued by four P.E.I.-based unions, including the P.E.I. Nurses Union, said the masks should be made available to all frontline health-care staff.

NURSES UNION

Mona O’Shea, president of the PEINU, said she was not aware of any cases of health-care staff lacking access to the masks.

"This is a pro-active statement," O’Shea said in an interview.

"We're not panicking, but we are sounding the alarm."

The statement, issued by the Union of Public Sector Employees, Canadian Union of Public Employees and International Union of Operating Engineers, along with the PEINU, said the N95 masks should be used as a precautionary measure. There is currently no scientific certainty about how COVID-19 is transmitted.

“We would be advocating that all of our nurses in any of those situations would be provided the approved N95 respirators," O’Shea said, referring to nurses with risk of transmission of the virus.

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