British Columbia

Vancouver hospitals increase face mask control amid coronavirus fears

As the global concern over the novel coronavirus outbreak continues, Providence Health Care has centralized its storage of protective face masks and sent staff a memo about when it's appropriate to use the masks.

Providence Health sends memo to staff about proper mask use as global coronavirus concern continues

Store employees in Greater Victoria say face masks and hand sanitizer are disappearing seconds after being stocked. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

Providence Health Care has changed the way it manages its face mask supply, as coronavirus concerns have led people to seek N95 protective masks.

The organization, which operates medical facilities including Vancouver's St. Paul's and Mount Saint Joseph hospitals, has increased monitoring of its masks and has also sent a memo reminding staff of appropriate mask use.

"These specialized masks are only worn by our health-care workers for specific procedures in which aerosol sprays may be generated," a Providence spokesperson told CBC News.

The healthcare provider said it has centralized its N95 mask distribution in order to keep a closer eye on it and make sure it has adequate safety equipment for staff.

However, Providence said it is not experiencing a shortage of N95 masks, nor has it confirmed any reports of theft.

Staff at Vancouver's St. Paul's Hospital, along with other Providence Health Care staff were sent a memo about appropriate mask use. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

In terms of how the public uses the masks, the spokesperson echoed the advice from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control:

You should wear a mask if you're sick to prevent transmission to other people. But it is less effective if you're healthy and masks may give a person a false sense of security and increase face touching when the mask needs adjustment.

Meanwhile, the Provincial Health Services Authority, which provides equipment including masks to the province's hospitals, said there are currently not concerns regarding mask supply or other protective equipment.

The BCCDC confirmed on Sunday two coronavirus cases which had been presumptive, bringing the total cases in B.C. to four.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, said Thursday that the two patients are a man and woman in their 30s visiting from China's Hubei province.

Henry said the visitors are linked to a woman in her 50s who was diagnosed last week in the Vancouver area.

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Rafferty Baker

Video journalist

Rafferty Baker is a Video journalist with CBC News, based in Vancouver, as well as a writer and producer of the CBC podcast series, Pressure Cooker. You can find his stories on CBC Radio, television, and online at


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