Adrian Dix warns 'alternative' protective equipment will soon be used in health system
B.C.'s health minister says supply of personal protective equipment is running low, as global demand surges
B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix is warning those working in the health system that 'alternative' personal protective equipment (PPE) will soon be used, as global demand makes sourcing the equipment challenging.
The warning came during Monday's daily COVID-19 briefing with provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. Dix outlined the stringent verification process any new equipment would undergo, in an effort to assure health workers the equipment would be up to standard.
"We continue to receive a significant amount of PPE from international sources, but as you're seeing from the international media and national media in Canada and from other jurisdictions, it's a real challenge to source PPE," he said.
According to Dix, the dire need for equipment means officials are turning to vendors and manufacturers that they haven't had a relationship with in the past.
"I need to be clear that we're approaching that point where we'll need to introduce alternative PPE," he said. "Our health-care workers have done a great job extending use and conserving the product we typically use in our health system, but it is running low."
Dix said it remains a struggle to replace the traditional equipment in the context of the global demand caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but there are safe and effective products available.
New PPE coming 'within the next week'
"Use of alternative and equivalent PPE is on the horizon, likely within the next week," he said.
The health minister said any new products would be carefully considered before they're put into service in the health system.
He said experts will ensure unfamiliar PPE has certification and documentation, and it will be compared to National Institute of Occupational Safety Standards used in Canada.
According to Dix, there will be manual inspections and if there is any uncertainty, alternative PPE will be sent for laboratory testing.