Translated from an article by Felix Séguin, Bureau d’enquête (TVA), published on May 7, 2020

“The Chief Infectious Disease Officer for the West Island of Montreal suggested that the Lakeshore General Hospital nursing staff infected with COVID-19 and working with infected patients should not wear protective equipment so as not to deplete inventory.

In an e-mail dated April 26, microbiologist Maria-Jesus Arrieta said that hospital employees infected with COVID-19 who are currently in quarantine, but who are feeling well, could return to work a week after the start of their confinement.

Dr. Arrietta, who is also responsible for infection control for the CIUSSS de l’Ouest-de-l’Île-de-Montréal, proposes that these employees be allowed to return to work only in areas of the hospital reserved for patients who test positive for coronavirus.

Radical and necessary

She also states that staff “can work with little or no personal protective equipment”, although this option remains to be further discussed.

“This would allow more people who are not sick to work (in the hospital) and save on personal protective equipment. It’s radical, but I believe, at this point, that it’s necessary,” she continued, in an email that the Bureau d’enquête (TVA) obtained a copy of.

Ethical dilemma

These measures suggested by the specialist quickly sparked a scientific and ethical debate among CIUSSS de l’Ouest-de-l’Île health professionals.

Several people to whom we (Bureau d’enqûete TVA) spoke confidentially point to the lack of scientific data and the uncertainty surrounding post-infection immunity as grounds for questioning this proposal. They are also concerned about transmitting the disease to caregivers who are not yet infected.

In an interview with the BBC, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove of the World Health Organization said that medicine does not yet have the answers to these questions.

In an interview with our (TVA) Bureau d’enquête, Dr. Maria-Jesus Arrieta said she would be happy to explain the reasoning behind her suggestions, but only if CIUSSS de l’Ouest-de-l’Île gave her permission.”

Source: TVA 

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