Provincial health officer Dr Bonnie Henry at a COVID briefing. Province of BC / Flickr

Businesses should expect high numbers of staff to be off sick with COVID at any point: Henry

Businesses should be prepared and develop contingency plans for as much as a third of their staff to be off sick with COVID at any given point, says BC’s provincial health officer. Nevertheless, Dr Bonnie Henry says she won’t be putting any further restrictions on businesses to reduce transmission—telling reporters on Tuesday that she “want[s] …

Businesses should expect high numbers of staff to be off sick with COVID at any point: Henry Read More »

By Srushti Gangdev | January 5, 2022 |5:00 am

Businesses should be prepared and develop contingency plans for as much as a third of their staff to be off sick with COVID at any given point, says BC’s provincial health officer.

Nevertheless, Dr Bonnie Henry says she won’t be putting any further restrictions on businesses to reduce transmission—telling reporters on Tuesday that she “want[s] to get out of the [public health] order business.”

Henry said other provinces and countries are seeing disruptions ranging from trucking to airlines having to cancel flights, and that businesses in BC have to be ready for similar experiences.

“Public health is reactive in terms of case management and contact tracing. But sectors now have the tools to do that, from the experience that we have. And you need to—because this is going to affect [us] across the board,” Henry said.

“Part of it is doing things to reduce transmission to allow people to stay home if they’re ill for that period of time, but also to have business continuity plans in place. And yes, I do think it is over to the sector now. It’s not me who can order these.”

Henry said businesses need to have plans to reduce density in the workplace both of employees and customers, introduce staggered shifts, and have people work from home whenever possible. The Burnaby Board of Trade’s policy director, Cory Redekop, said on Twitter that the organization would be sending local businesses recommendations on what to do if a staff member becomes sick.

But Henry emphasized personal responsibility not only at the business level, but on an individual one too. Staying at home if you feel sick in any way, she said, is the most important thing you can do.

So is wearing masks—but on the hot topic of whether you should switch to an N95 or respirator, as the Public Health Agency of Canada has officially recommended, Henry said it’s not necessary in most situations.

“The incremental benefit in a low-risk setting like a school or a retail store is minimal. What is most important is that you have a good fitting mask that you wear and you wear appropriately.”

Meanwhile, health minister Adrian Dix said the province is preparing now for a “dramatic” rise in hospitalizations and critical care admissions, similar to what other jurisdictions—including Ontario and the UK—have experienced already.

While BC hasn’t had that “dramatic” rise yet, Dix said hospitalizations and critical care admissions are creeping up.

“The rate of transmission that we’re seeing now in British Columbia, like many other jurisdictions around the world, means that at this point, most people in BC, likely have a friend or family member, or a colleague, who has been infected with the Omicron variant,” Henry said.

“Right now, in the tug of war of transmission, Omicron has the advantage.”

Srushti Gangdev

Reporter at Burnaby Beacon

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