The confirmation of the first case of the novel coronavirus in BC has captured the attention of the health community and members of the public. And, with the World Health Organization declaring the virus outbreak a global emergency, worldwide news channels are full of information, which in some cases is either speculative or simply untrue.
A disturbing consequence of misinformation about the virus is the increase in reports of discrimination we are reading about in Canada and around the world. Regrettably, here in BC, the College has heard from several sources that patients with flu-like symptoms have been turned away from clinics and offices, denied care when they need it the most.
While the College has not at this point received a formal complaint, it does seem timely to remind registrants of their obligations as articulated in the practice standard Access to Medical Care. The practice standard prohibits discrimination of patients based on their medical condition, or their national or ethnic origin. All patients have the right to medical care, and all registrants have a professional, ethical, and in many cases legal duty not to turn sick patients away.
The BC Centre for Disease Control is updating its website regularly with information about confirmed cases, case definitions, diagnostic testing, infection control and public health measures. Even though we are aware that the risk remains low, registrants are encouraged to review the site frequently to get the latest and most accurate information about the novel coronavirus.
Questions about communicable diseases, environmental health and other public health issues should be directed to one of the regional health authorities:
- Fraser Health: 1-866-990-9941
- Interior Health: 1-866-778-7736
- Island Health
- South Island: 1-866-665-6626
- Central Island: 1-866-770-7798
- North Island: 1-877-887-8835
- Northern Health: 250-565-2990
- Vancouver Coastal Health: 604-675-3900
Heidi M. Oetter, MD
Registrar and CEO
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