October 28, 2020 (OTTAWA, ON) – In the midst of a second wave of COVID-19 sweeping across the country, a growing number of Canadian and international experts – recognized as leading occupational health and safety experts, aerosol scientists, virologists, chemists, professors and medical doctors – are calling on the federal government to adopt the precautionary principle in its approach to protecting health care workers.
As signatories to a consensus statement, prominent global experts, including Dr. Raymond Tellier (Canada), Dr. Julian Tang (United Kingdom), Dr. Lisa Brosseau (United States), Dr. Yuguo Li (Hong Kong), Dr. Lidia Morawska (Australia) and Dr. Donald Milton (United States), are backing the key recommendations from Mario Possamai’s recent report, A Time of Fear: How Canada failed our health care workers and mismanaged COVID-19.
Dr. Lidia Morawska and Dr. Donald Milton previously co-authored the commentary published in July 2020, to which 237 other scientists signed on, urging the WHO to recognize the potential for airborne transmission of COVID-19 and adopt “preventive measures to mitigate” it.
“Global experts are deeply concerned by the infection rate of Canadian health care workers, which is two times higher than the global average. Experts are rallying behind Mr. Possamai’s recommendations because they know that this is a matter of life and death for frontline health workers,” said Linda Silas, president of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions, which commissioned Possamai’s independent report.
A Time of Fear recommends that governments and public health agencies adopt the precautionary principle in infection control guidance, ensure sufficient supplies of PPE be accessible to all health workers who require them, establish a federal worker safety agency, increase transparency regarding PPE stockpiles and health worker infection numbers, and enhance Canada’s pandemic containment measures.
“Our political leaders have been quick to thank health care workers for their service but have failed to guarantee the minimum protections they need to stay safe at work. With no end to the pandemic in sight, we must listen to experts by acting urgently to guarantee the safety of frontline health workers and their patients,” concluded Silas.
The consensus statement is receiving expert signatories on an ongoing basis and is available here.
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