Nova Scotia

Province looks for more ventilators ahead of potential COVID-19 spread

After announcing Nova Scotia's first presumed cases of COVID-19, Premier Stephen McNeil said the province has ordered 140 ventilators through the federal government, which would mark a nearly 60 per cent increase in the current supply.

The Nova Scotia Health Authority is calling on staff to conserve medical supplies

Nova Scotia has ordered 140 ventilators as it prepares for an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases. (Jean-Pierre Clatot/AFP via Getty Images)

Nova Scotia has ordered more ventilators as it prepares for the number of COVID-19 cases to rise.

The province announced its first three presumptive cases on Sunday, making it the final province in Canada to detect the virus.

At a news conference following the announcement, Premier Stephen McNeil told reporters Nova Scotia had ordered 140 ventilators, a nearly 60 per cent increase to the existing supply of about 240 ventilators. 

Global shortage

Some hard-hit European countries, like Italy and Germany, are currently scrambling for more ventilators to treat severe cases of the illness.

Italy — which as of Sunday had more than 20,000 cases of COVID-19 and almost 1,500 deaths — recently issued a tender for an additional 5,000 ventilators from equipment manufacturers.

The World Health Organization warned last week of global shortages and price gouging on ventilators and personal protective equipment, and urged companies and governments to increase production by 40 per cent.

A week ago, Patty Hajdu, Canada's minister of health, said medical supply shortages were starting to affect Canada and the federal government was taking stock of national inventories of ventilators, protective gear and hospital beds.

McNeil said Nova Scotia's order for more ventilators was going through the federal government.

Health authority conserving supplies

With the detection of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia, both the premier and the province's chief medical officer of health underscored the importance of using medical supplies "appropriately."

The president and CEO of the Nova Scotia Health Authority also spoke about the use of supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic in a recent video addressed to staff.

Two days before Nova Scotia had announced its first cases of coronavirus, Brendan Carr said it was "critical" for the health authority to conserve supplies.

He said he had recently learned that stock of protective equipment was diminishing "at a rate that is not consistent with our current clinical practice," suggesting some people were taking items for personal use. 

"I really need to stop and say with absolute seriousness that there is no way anybody should be taking equipment out of our facilities or supply areas," Carr said.

"All of those equipments need to be here and accounted for because they will be needed a couple weeks from now."

N95 use should be minimized

Carr added that the N95 respirator — a face mask that blocks 95 per cent of microbes — should especially be conserved.

He asked that any protective equipment taken from the health authority's inventory be returned.

"We are going to need it and this is potentially going to have an impact on your fellow staff members and their ability to look after a sick patients a couple of weeks from now."

About the Author

Taryn Grant

Reporter

Taryn Grant is a Halifax-based reporter for CBC Nova Scotia. Get in touch with her by email at taryn.grant@cbc.ca

With files from Reuters