Rising COVID-19 case numbers are prompting workplaces designed to deal with the world’s most infectious diseases to adopt remote work plans.
Workers at the Canadian National Microbiology Laboratory who are able to work from home have been asked to do so starting Monday.
The shift to remote work comes in the face of widespread community transmission and extremely high cases as Canada battles the latest wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The lab has two locations in Winnipeg, including the only facility in Canada that serves as a containment level 4 laboratory, which works with deadly infectious diseases such as Ebola.
A spokesperson for Public Health Canada will not say whether the move to remote work is due to COVID-19 cases at the facility or provide any numbers of employees who have tested positive for the virus.
“On January 7, 2022, all employees of NML were informed via email that the facility is making several changes due to the large number of COVID-19 cases in Canada,” PHAC said in a written statement to the NML. free Journalism.
“To protect the essential workforce that conducts critical diagnoses and lab research on site, all employees who can work remotely have been asked to do so beginning Monday, January 10, and whenever possible over the next three weeks (when guidance is revised).”
The lab provided “critical scientific leadership” in Canada’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, including data collection, modeling and testing support, as well as more than 100 research studies on the virus and its effects, according to the PHAC website.
PHAC said managers were also asked to “review their program resilience plan” with the goal of “reducing the number of close contacts at the facility.”
The agency said all employees should wear masks or respirators when not eating or drinking — even when staying away from others.
Cynthia Carr, a Winnipeg-based epidemiologist and founder of EPI Research Inc. The vision of the Level 4 lab – which will have strict security measures in place at all times – switching to remote work where possible is a “critical reminder” of the variable’s extreme portability of the Omicron.
Kar said to free press Sunday.
“For me,[this tells us]that there is a reaction[from PHAC]to our continuing clear knowledge of the tenacity of this virus, the speed, and how easily it can spread to others.”
Manitoba reported 3,265 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, January 7, bringing the total number of confirmed infections over a 10-day period to 17,260. Public health officials said this represented a significant decrease due to insufficient lab testing capacity.
During the holiday season, from Christmas to New Years, more than 915 health care workers have tested positive for the virus.
The widespread community transmission of the Omicron variant has left the public sector with significant staff shortages, resulting in worker shortages among the Winnipeg Police Service, Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service and Winnipeg Transit.
WPS President Danny Smith declared a state of emergency on January 5 so that he could redeploy officers to a general patrol mission. At the time, 170 WPS employees were absent due to leave related to COVID-19, including 90 sick with the virus.
Carr said PHAC’s shift to teleworking for lab staff could be an effort by public health to “lead the way” in policy that should be widespread among the workforce at this point in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
For now, Carr said, it should be anyone who works from home.
“We need to keep our employees as healthy as possible and at home,” Carr said. “With this alternative, a lot of people who test positive have a mild illness, so they can still work. But they can’t go back to the workplace.” .
“The best thing to do is have people really set up and have them continue to work from home while we go through this wave…This is our only level 4 lab and we need to do everything we can to keep these essentials and very specific services running .”
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