Editorial Archive

Message from the Chief Safety Officer

1/30/20 9:35 PM

Safety Notice #3: New Coronavirus Outbreak

What is the update from Toronto Public Health?

Toronto Public Health is monitoring two confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Toronto. The individuals recently travelled to Wuhan together. One individual is in hospital and the other has been in self-isolation at home since returning to Toronto. Toronto Public Health continues to monitor the situation and provide updates. The risk to Toronto residents remains low.

Do I need a respirator to protect myself from coronavirus?

Toronto Public Health advises that for general, day-to-day activities, there is no need to wear a surgical or N95 mask.

Toronto Public Health advises residents to take the usual measures to reduce the risk of influenza and other respiratory infections:
> Get a yearly flu vaccination available from clinics and pharmacies as this is the best way to prevent influenza infection.
> Clean your hand frequently and thoroughly with soap and water, or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
> Cover your mouth and nose when you cough and sneeze.
> If you don’t have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your sleeve or arm.
> Stay at home if you are sick.

What do I do if I have the flu?

Most cases of the flu will run their course without medical intervention. If you are sick, stay at home, get plenty of rest and fluids to let your body recover. Only seek medical attention if you are not getting better, if your condition is not improving or if you experience severe symptoms. If you have questions, contact your physician or Toronto Public Health at 416-338-7600 to discuss your condition and history.

What do I do if I have recently been to China and experience flu-like symptoms?

Travellers who have returned from recent international travel and report respiratory signs and symptoms, such as a cough and fever, should avoid contact with others except to see a health care professional. Ensure that you tell them (in advance):
> Your symptoms;
> Where you have been travelling or living;
> If you have had direct contact with animals (for example: visited a live animal market) or close contact with a sick person.

When will I need to self-isolate/stay at home?

You will need to stay home and self-isolate if:
> You have confirmed 2019 Novel Coronavirus infection and do not need hospitalization and can receive care at home.
> You are being assessed for the 2019 Novel Coronavirus infection by a healthcare provider.

Anyone returning from China will be asked on entry at airports to review their travel history and to monitor the status of their health. Travellers who report no symptoms are not required to quarantine or isolate themselves. Employees will not be asked to stay or work from home.

What is TTC doing?

The TTC has been participating in a City daily conference call with the Toronto Medical Officer of Health and is receiving the most relevant and up-to-date information there is about the coronavirus. The TTC continues to take direction from Toronto Public Health regarding what precautions/controls should be implemented for its employees and customers. Toronto Public Health continues to work closely with provincial and federal health agencies to actively monitor the situation and respond as appropriate.

Toronto Public Health has indicated that the risk to City employees and Toronto residents remains low. They are not recommending any changes to routine infection prevention and control policies for City division work sites, including the TTC.

However, as an extra precaution, the TTC will begin the implementation of the disinfection of shared workspaces and public spaces using the Oxivir (hospital grade disinfectant) family of products already approved on the TTC’s WHMIS system.

Daily status updates are being provided by all departments to the Executive.

Where do I get reliable information?

Inaccurate information continues to spread and it is creating unnecessary stigma against members of our community. Discrimination is not acceptable. Employees are reminded that the Respect and Dignity in the Workplace Policy still applies during these stressful times. Please see the attached Coping with the Novel Coronavirus Outbreak document prepared by Morneau Shepell for additional information on how to manage stress during these uncertain times. It is imperative that people check credible, evidence-based sources to get the facts when seeking information.

Also attached is a Question and Answer document developed by Toronto Public Health.

The TTC Safety and Environment Department has posted a number of information/resource documents on their home page. See the link on the TTC Intranet homepage or the Safety and Environment Department website (internal).

More information about coronavirus is also available from Toronto Public Health at:
https://www.toronto.ca/community-people/health-wellness-care/diseases-medications-vaccines/coronavirus/.
Health Canada has also prepared “New Corona Virus, Frequently Asked Questions” at:
https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/frequently-asked-questions.html.

Questions?

If you have any questions, please contact the Occupational Hygiene and Environment Section at 416-393-3320. If you have any questions related to your personal health, please contact your family doctor or Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000. Toronto Public Health has also set up a coronavirus hotline that provides the public with a place to get information, ask questions about this virus and connect with a health professional at 416-338-7600.

Betty Hasserjian
Chief Safety Officer (acting)
Safety and Environment Department
January 30, 2020

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