Saskatchewan Chief Medical Officer of Health urges essential service employers to have COVID emergency plans
The Omicron variant of COVID-19 is making its way into the people of Saskatchewan, but some cities, agencies and organizations haven’t had much to do about it yet.
Saskatchewan Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr Saqib Shahab said residents have done well during the holidays to minimize the spread of Omicron, but the next four to six weeks will see a big increase due to the variant. .
He said being diligent about vaccinations and rapid tests, and following the provincial isolation policy, would help reduce stress on the province’s health system and other essential service workers.
“All these sectors should have contingency plans to manage the work if a significant part of their staff is on sick leave, even if the symptoms [of Omicron] are mild and you just need to isolate yourself for five days, ”Shahab said earlier this week.
Regina Police Department communications spokesperson Elizabeth Popowich provided background information on the organization’s plans.
She said that currently the police department has fewer than 12 employees with positive COVID-19 tests, although the situation is monitored and discussed daily, and guidelines and recommendations from the Saskatchewan Health Authority are followed.
Police have a pandemic plan, which has been in place for some time. Aspects of the plan, including redeploying non-patrolling sections to the frontline response, could be implemented when and if needed, Popowich said.
“We used this aspect of the plan in late 2020 and early 2021, when we took a dispersed readiness approach with some employees on hold, working from home,” she said.
The force has not changed who can work from home, but Popowich said discussions are underway in various administrative, civil and support sections to have fewer people present at police department offices in Regina. Popowhich said those employees previously worked from home in late 2020 and early 2021.
The Saskatoon Police Department said that due to fluctuations in the number of cases, it was unable to provide an accurate picture of the number among its ranks of officers and staff, but that a small percentage of the service was affected by Omicron.
These cases, according to the police department statement, were due to community transmission of the virus, not workplace transmissions.
In the police department’s statement, Deputy Chief Mitch Yuzdepski said a plan is in place to ensure there is no disruption to frontline services. The plan included the use of other police unit resources to support frontline services as needed.
“We have seen an increase in the number of employees on sick leave due to the obligation to self-isolate, but we have not had to activate any phase of our business continuity plan at this time,” said declared Yuzdepski.
The police department said it continued to monitor the COVID-19 situation and its impact on the organization on a daily basis, although Yuzdepski said the department was confident that frontline services would not be adversely affected.
A statement from the city of Saskatoon said measures were in place at its facilities to mitigate the potential spread of COVID in the workplace.
Staff are required to submit either mandatory proof of COVID-19 vaccination or proof of a negative test, and must complete fitness-for-duty forms before going to the workplace.
The statement said masking and physical distancing protocols, as well as improved cleaning and physical barriers, were in place. Face-to-face meetings have been discouraged unless “of a critical nature”.
“The City of Saskatoon is currently not experiencing any significant staffing issues,” said Pamela Goulden-McLeod, Director of Emergency Preparedness Organization.
“We continue to monitor and plan for any impact of the Omicron variant on staff levels by reviewing all business continuity plans to ensure critical services can continue. “
Parkland Ambulance, which serves the Prince Albert area, said on Friday that one of its 75 employees was absent due to a positive COVID-19 test.
Lyle Karasiuk, director of public affairs for Parkland, said the service uses priority screening to determine the priority of calls when asked about emergency plans.
“As an emergency department, it’s pretty hard to tell who gets an ambulance and who doesn’t, but… if you’re not breathing your service rate is obviously higher than a patient coming from. a rural hospital for an elective scanner, ”said Karasiuk. in an email to CBC News.
“We can start prioritizing acuity-based emergencies and delaying diagnoses in consultation with health teams.”
He said only five of the service’s employees are capable of working from home, and they are currently.
Parkland staff are tested promptly each time they start their shift and are encouraged to perform home testing, reduce social gatherings, and obey public health orders, messages and restrictions.