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What workers and employers need to know about coronavirus

Published on: January 31, 2020

This week, the first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) was reported in Metro Vancouver.

Information about the coronavirus is constantly developing. WorkSafeBC will continue to refer to the BC Centre for Disease Control and the Public Health Agency of Canada for guidance. Public health officials have said that the risk of the virus spreading within British Columbia is currently low.

Information about 2019-nCoV

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that can cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. A new coronavirus named “2019-nCoV” has been identified – one that was not previously found in humans.

For more information, please visit www.healthlinkbc.ca.

Information for employers and workers

WorkSafeBC is currently advising employers and workers that special precautions for the coronavirus are not required, beyond the recommended measures to prevent common respiratory viruses like influenza.

These measures include:

  • Wash your hands often, and always after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.
  • Wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or, if soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

For more information, please refer to our influenza page.

Workers in the health care sector may have a higher potential risk of coming into contact with infected persons. WorkSafeBC is engaging with health authorities to verify their infection prevention and exposure control plans are effective and in place. The World Health Organization recommends that health care workers consistently apply appropriate infection prevention and control measures, including hand hygiene; wearing appropriate personal protective equipment, including masks and eye protection, when assessing patients with respiratory illness; and performing a risk assessment before providing care.