In December 2019, a new respiratory illness — novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) — was identified in Wuhan, China. The virus is now being reported in numerous countries, including Canada. Those with the virus may present with mild to severe symptoms that include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.
The College is in regular contact the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care regarding novel coronavirus in Ontario, and will provide updates relevant to optometrists as they occur.
What you can do
Everyone is encouraged to follow normal health precautions, such as good hand hygiene. It is also recommended to have tissues, alcohol-based hand rub and waste receptacles easily available in office and clinic settings.
Guidance for Primary Care in a Community Setting, found on the Ministry of Health website for health care providers, is intended to support primary care providers in settings where patients typically visit for the diagnosis and treatment for acute respiratory symptoms. Settings that provide services such as optometry are not expected to conduct active screening.
Optometrists can post signage (see handouts below) at their office entry and reception areas asking patients to self-identify if they have fever and/or difficulty breathing AND any of the following:
- have recently traveled to mainland China;
- have been in close contact with someone with acute respiratory illness who has been to mainland China within 14 days of their illness;
- have been in close contact with someone who is considered a probable case or has confirmed 2019-nCoV.
Offices may wish to reschedule appointments for sick patients, as they usually would.
What you must do
If, in the course of providing care, an optometrists suspects has or may have a disease of public health significance, the optometrist has a duty to report to their local public health units.
Resources for Optometrists
- Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care website for health care providers
- Ministry of Health patient handout in English, French and Simplified Chinese.
- Patient handout for those who have traveled to the province of Hubei, China, available in Eng., Fr., and Simplified Chinese.
Resources for the Public
Ministry of Health information sheets on coronavirus outline how to protect yourself and what to do if you think you have contracted the 2019 novel coronavirus. Available in English, French and 17 additional languages.
If patients have specific questions about screening or care, it is recommended they contact their local health units, or review updates provided on the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care public website.