Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, more and more countries – including Canada – are reporting cases. Localized and even internationally coordinated efforts to stop the spread of the disease may not be enough to prevent a global outbreak of coronavirus.1
While the risk to Canadians is still low, it is important to be prepared at the individual and community levels for all possible scenarios.
The Canadian Patient Safety Institute has a serious responsibility to respond to this potential pandemic. As part of our role in helping to keep the people of Canada safe within our healthcare system, we must perform two tasks and perform them well:
- We must reach out through our networks of healthcare system partners and social media followers to share information about how people can keep safe.
- We must rely on only the highest-quality information on how to stay safe in order to counter the spread of misinformation.
Fortunately, CPSI is well placed to accomplish the first task. Not only have we spent years building connections within the healthcare industry, but our recent focus on public engagement through the #ConquerSilence campaign has resulted in a much higher public profile. In addition, we have partnered with the World Health Organization (WHO) in the areas of infection prevention and control as well as in patient engagement.The outcome of these efforts can be best seen in STOP! Clean Your Hands Day, the Canadian aspect of the WHO's global "Clean Hands Save Lives" campaign that runs every May 5th. We have been delivering this event for 13 years. We know that one of the most effective ways to contain the spread of infections – including the flu, healthcare-acquired infections, and the coronavirus – is to clean your hands, and we are ideally positioned to share that message.You can help. You can register for STOP! Clean Your Hands Day so that you receive updated information about the campaign and information about infection prevention activities happening in Canada that day. You can also share effective messages like this on social media, to reinforce the importance of clean hands for safe care.Our second task could be more difficult for our small organization to research by ourselves. However, we know exactly where to turn. You can find the most accurate, updated information about the COVID-19 outbreak on Health Canada's website. The site includes cases identified in Canada, as well as prevention, symptoms and treatment, and advice for travellers. To draw on only one example, I focused on what each of us can do as individuals to stop the spread of infection. The website complied with excellent, common-sense instructions such as:
- Stay home if you are sick. Encourage those you know are sick to stay home until they no longer have symptoms.
- Respiratory viruses are spread through contact. Change your regular greeting from handshakes, hugs and kisses to a friendly wave or elbow bump.
- Practice frequent hand hygiene and coughing/sneezing etiquette. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs.
As you can see, the site offers practical solutions as well as information on the disease that is based on scientific fact from healthcare research. You will not find colloidal silver or sesame oil "cures" here.
In order to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus, everyone has a role to play. CPSI will continue to reach out through our vast partner networks to share only the best information to keep people safe. I thank you so much for your help in our efforts.
My inbox is open to you anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org, and you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisPowerCPSI.
Yours in patient safety,
1 Health Canada, Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Being prepared: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/being-prepared.html