Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) - Canadian Nurses ...

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Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) - Canadian Nurses ...
Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)
CNA encourages nurses to refer to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) for evidence-based, timely
and relevant information on the coronavirus.

This Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) website is available as a download.


Maintaining the nursing workforce, the largest health-care profession in Canada, is critical to a robust
pandemic response.


Federal, provincial and territorial levels of government are working together to help all people in Canada,
especially health-care providers.


PHAC’s dedicated COVID-19 web page and social media channels contain links to health professional
guidelines, travel advisories and information for the public.


The latest on how to prevent and treat COVID-19, with a focus on the knowledge, resource and practice
gaps faced by point-of-care nurses.


Learn how COVID-19 is diagnosed and understand its most common symptoms. Gain insight into some of
the gaps faced by health-care providers.


Find answers and see helpful resources that can support your nursing practice.

Thank a Nurse

World Health Organization

International Council of Nurses


CNA Advocacy

Conversations with the President

Message from the CEO


State of Emergency Declarations


Nursing Issues
   Personal protective equipment (PPE) and supplies
   Ethical dilemmas
   Health human resources challenges
   Emergency licensure/registration

Personal protective equipment (PPE) and supplies
CNA recognizes that there is currently much debate over mode of transmission. CNA works within the
framework of evidence-informed decision making and supports current evidence and guidance from PHAC
and WHO in the assertion that the virus is not airborne, unless during AGMPs. We are hearing anecdotal
accounts of shortages and anticipated shortages of supplies, including surgical and N95 masks. In addition,
we are hearing about situations where, because of these shortages or anticipated shortages, supplies are
not readily available for access (i.e., locked up, not kept within easy reach).

In response to the urgent shortages and ethical challenges arising around PPE, CNA has developed Key
Messages on PPE [PDF, 196.8 KB] to support and advocate for nurses.

CNA is continuing to advocate for rapid deployment of protective equipment to ensure nurses have access to
the supplies and equipment needed to provide safe quality and ethical care for their patients. In order to
optimize the use of the current supply of masks and respirators, the federal government has provided the
following guidance:

   Optimizing the use of masks and respirators during the COVID-19 outbreak

Other equipment and supplies

Adequate medical equipment and supplies are an essential part of ensuring quality and safe care for
patients. CNA is aware of the increasing reports and concerns of actual or potential shortages of other
supplies, including ventilators, hand sanitizers.1,2 As described in PPE above, this has resulted in
conservative management and rationing of supplies.3 Federal, provincial and territorial governments are
rapidly attempting to purchase supplies, however industry and manufacturers may be limited in their capacity
to meet the rapidly increasing needs of health-care facilities. Manufacturers and businesses are now being
approached to supply products and services for the COVID-19 response.

Testing kits for COVID-19 are critical to the early identification and isolation of cases to limit spread within the
community. Shortages of testing kits has been reported, contributing to more targeted testing of patients in
provinces like Ontario and British Columbia, saving tests for those high risk or increased likelihood of
spreading the virus. In response, the federal government has now expedited review/approval of COVID-19
testing kits for importation and sale in Canada to increase access for provinces/territories to a larger supply.4
See Health Canada’s list of authorized kits for use in Canada.
For nurses working at the point of care, lack of appropriate supplies can create moral distress due to level of
care they are able to provide as well as concern for their safety and that of their family. Nurses recognize
their duty to provide safe, competent, compassionate and ethical care.5 However, it is the employer’s duty “to
protect and support them as well as to provide necessary and sufficient protective equipment and supplies
that will “maximally minimize risk” to nurses and other health-care providers.”

Ethical dilemmas
CNA’s Code of Ethics offers content on ethical considerations during a pandemic (CNA, 2017).

In Appendix B: Applying the Code in Selected Circumstances (pages 38-40), the Code states:

   Historically and currently, nurses provide care to those in need, even when providing care puts their own
   health and life at risk (for example, when they work in wartorn areas, places of poverty, places with poor
   sanitation, etc.). Nurses also encounter personal risk when providing care for those with a known or
   unknown communicable or infectious disease. However, disasters and communicable disease outbreaks
   call for extraordinary effort from all health-care personnel, including nurses. The Code states:

      During a natural or human-made disaster, including a communicable disease outbreak, nurses
      provide care using appropriate safety precautions in accordance with legislation, regulations and
      guidelines provided by government, regulatory bodies, employers, unions and professional
      associations. (A9)

   A duty to provide care refers to a nurse’s professional obligation to provide persons receiving care with
   safe, competent, compassionate and ethical care. However, there may be some circumstances in which it
   is acceptable for a nurse to withdraw from providing care or to refuse to provide care (CRNBC, 2017b;
   CRNNS, 2014). Unreasonable burden is a concept raised in relation to the duty to provide care and
   withdrawing from or refusing to provide care. An unreasonable burden may exist when a nurse’s ability to
   provide safe care and meet professional standards of practice is compromised by unreasonable
   expectations, lack of resources or ongoing threats to personal and family well-being (CRNBC, 2017b).

   The following criteria could be useful for nurses to consider when contemplating providing care in a
   disaster or communicable disease outbreak:
      the significance of the risk to the person in care if the nurse does not assist;
      whether the nurse’s intervention is directly relevant to preventing harm;
      whether the nurse’s care will probably prevent harm; and
      whether the benefit of the nurse’s intervention outweighs harms the nurse might incur and does not
      present more than an acceptable risk to the nurse (ANA, 2006).

   When demands on the health-care system are excessive, material resources may be in short supply and
   nurses and other health-care providers may be at risk. Nurses have a right to receive truthful and
   complete information so they can fulfil their duty to provide care. They have a clear understanding about
   the obligations and expectations around their role. They must also be supported in meeting their own
   health needs. Nurses’ employers have a reciprocal duty to protect and support them as well as to provide
   necessary and sufficient protective equipment and supplies that will “maximally minimize risk” to nurses
   and other health-care providers. At the same time, nurses use their professional judgment to select and
   use the appropriate prevention measures; select, in collaboration with the health-care team, the
   appropriate agency, manufacturer and government guidelines concerning use and fit of personal
protective equipment; and advocate for a change when agency, manufacturer or government guidelines
   do not meet the infection control requirements regarding appropriate use and fit of personal protective
   equipment (CNO, 2009b).

   Nurses carefully consider their professional role, their duty to provide care and other competing
   obligations to their own health, to family and to friends. In doing so, they understand the steps they might
   take both in advance of and during an emergency or pandemic situation so that they are prepared for
   making ethical decisions (CNA, 2008; Thompson, Faith, Gibson, & Upshur, 2006). Value and
   responsibility statements in the Code support nurses’ reflection and actions.

   A. In anticipation of the need for nursing care in a disaster or disease outbreak, nurses:
      work together with nurse colleagues, unions and joint occupational health and safety committees, and
      others in positions of leadership to develop emergency response practice guidelines using available
      resources and guidelines from governments, professional associations and regulatory bodies;
      learn about and provide input into the guidelines the region, province or country has established
      regarding which persons are to receive priority in care (e.g., priority based on greatest need, priority
      based on the probability of a good outcome, etc.);
      learn how support will be provided for those providing care and carrying the physical and moral
      burden of care;
      request and receive regular updates about appropriate safety measures nurses might take to protect
      and prevent themselves from becoming the victim of a disaster or disease;
      assist in developing a fair way to settle conflicts or disputes regarding work exemptions or exemptions
      from the prophylaxis or vaccination of health-care providers; and
      help develop ways in which appeals or complaints can be handled within the occupational health and
      safety framework.

   B. When in the midst of a disaster or disease outbreak, nurses:
      refer to regulations and guidelines provided by government, regulatory bodies, employers and
      professional associations;
      help make the fairest decisions possible about the allocation of resources;
      help set priorities in as transparent a manner as possible;
      provide safe, compassionate, competent and ethical care (in disasters, as much as circumstances
      help determine if, when and how nurses may have to decline or withdraw from care; and
      advocate for the least restrictive measures possible when a person’s individual rights must be

Health human resources challenges
Prior to the emergence of COVID-19, jurisdictions across Canada had undergone significant health-care
transformations, leading to disruption in the nursing workforce, work environment and workload. Reports of
unplanned closures of nursing units and emergency departments across the country, in part due to unsafe
staffing levels, garnered public attention.6,7,8 COVID-19 is expected to significantly burden our health-care
system, with estimates that 30-70% of the population could become infected. Maintaining the nursing
workforce, the largest health-care profession in Canada, is critical to a robust pandemic response. With this
goal in mind, the following represent challenges that is stressing the shortages thus far:

   Increasing population health needs — Canada’s cases are rapidly increasing, and health-care systems
   are implementing preparedness efforts to strengthen surge capacity. The significant aging population in
Canada may increase the burden of illness from COVID-19. The expansion of health-care settings to
   triage and assess COVID-19 cases (i.e., assessment centres, telehealth) will challenges the health-care
   system to ensure all units are adequately staffed.
   Risk of exposure and illness acquired in practice — Nurses and health-care providers at the point-of-
   care are at higher risk of exposure to COVID-19. China has reported over 3,000 health-care providers
   were infected with COVID-19, and Italy reports that 9% of their cases are health-care providers.9 Canada
   is already experiencing worrisome trends with cases of nurses being infected or exposed to COVID-19 in
   Ontario and British Columbia10,11 In the immediate future, losing health-care providers due to exposure
   and/or illness for weeks can put a significant strain on the workforce and highlights the importance of
   protecting our health-care providers. Long-term, the lasting impact of COVID-19 on the health of
   individuals is unknown, and the potential for chronic or prolonged health concerns is possible, and may
   have impacts on the health of the nursing workforce.
   Work restrictions related to travel — All travelers returning from outside of Canada must self-isolate for
   a period of 14 days, however certain jurisdictions have exempted workers in essential services from this
   guidance, including nurses.12,13 Recognizing the increasing health-care needs of the population during a
   pandemic, the risk to patients and staff of nurses transmitting COVID-19 must be weighed against the
   critical service that would be limited.
   Family responsibilities — Nurses are impacted by closure of schools and daycares. Coordinating with
   partners, families and friends to ensure their children are cared for can be extremely challenging. As an
   essential service care provider, where working from home is not an option, nurses may experience
   increased pressure and stress to obtain childcare and meet their professional responsibility. Ensuring that
   nurses can meet their family obligations is needed to ensure they can remain part of the workforce.

Emergency licensure/registration
In response to the increasing demands caused by the global pandemic of COVID-19, some
provincial/territorial nursing regulatory bodies have initiated an expedited registration process for recently
retired nurses or nurses practising in other jurisdictions. In consultation with respective jurisdictional
governments, a temporary reinstatement or temporary emergency licensure allows retired nurses and nurses
from other jurisdictions, respectively, to rapidly obtain a licence to practice in the event of an emergency. The
links below identify the regulatory bodies which have opened this process (as of March 20, 2020), along with
eligibility requirements. Each regulator may have a different process, and this may change as the situation
unfolds, please contact the regulator for more information.

Temporary and/or Emergency Licensures open in Provincial/Territorial Jurisdictions
As of March 20, 2020

British Columbia College of Nursing Professionals

   Fees: Waived
   Description: Temporary emergency registration has been made available and is being prioritized to
   assist in the COVID-19 pandemic response.
   COVID-19 Update: Temporary emergency registration available

College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta

   Fees: Not specified
   Description: Former members of CARNA who would like to provide assistance during COVID-19 are
   asked to contact previous employer (Covenant Health or Alberta Health Services) to inform them of your
   availability. The employer will communicate the list of names to CARNA, who will follow-up with those on         /
the Alberta Health or the health-care provider organizations list to begin the process of reinstating
      practice permits for the pandemic response.
      See March 17, 2020, news release:

College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO)

      Fees: Emergency class: No fee
      Reinstatement: CNO will refund all fees.
      Description: Two types of registration are open:
          Emergency Class registration is the process for nurses who are not registered in Ontario but would
          like to assist in the COVID-19 response in the province.
          Reinstatement is available for eligible nurses who are currently in a non-practising class and would
          like to aid in COVID-19 response in Ontario.

Nova Scotia College of Nursing

      Fees: Not specified
      Description: Two types of licences are currently open for registration:
          Licences for nurses registered in another Canadian jurisdiction wanting to temporarily practise in Nova
          Scotia during COVID-19.
          Rapid Licensing for Nurses Temporarily Returning to Practice in Emergency Situations

Saskatchewan Registered Nurses Association

      Fees: Not specified
      Description: SRNA is compiling a bank of Emergency Practising licenced RNs ready for when they are






6   Pontiac Hospital closes obstetrics unit for 10th time. (2019, December, 13). CBC News. Retrieved from

7   N.S. emergency departments see 60% jump in closure hours. (2019, December, 19). CBC News. Retrieved from

8   Government of Nova Scotia. (2019). Annual accountability report on emergency departments. Retrieved from


10   Patton, J. (2020, March, 23). Coronavirus: 13 health-care workers test positive for COVID-19 in Toronto. Retrieved from

11   Thomson, C. (2020, March, 22). Dozens of nurses exposed to COVID-19 at St. Mary’s Hospital: ONA. Retrieved from

12   British Columbia Centre for Disease Control. (2020, March, 16). COVID-19 and determination of return to work of essential
service workers who have traveled out of Canada. Retrieved from

13   Ministry of Health, Government of Ontario. (2020, March, 20). COVID-19 Guidance: Occupational health and safety and
infection prevention & control. Retrieved from

Public Policy Response
   Working together
   Emergency measures act
   Health systems

Working together
Across Canada, federal, provincial and territorial (FPT) governments are working together to find solutions to
help all people in Canada, support health-care providers and the health system both immediately and after
the pandemic has subsided. Billions of dollars have already been invested into supports for people,
businesses and the economy. FPT government supports will continue to increase over the coming days and
weeks as the COVID-19 outbreak continues. Some of the measures that are being supported by FPT
governments include; protection for workers who fall ill or take leave to care for an ill family member,
employment insurance (EI) wait times reduced and special emergency EI benefits created for those who fall
ill, procurement of personal protective equipment and supplies for health-care providers, support for
childcare needs, drug and medical device monitoring, support for Canadians abroad, new Indigenous
community support funds, increased investment into health research and various tax measures.

To find what each FPT government is doing in response to COVID-19, what supports are available to you or
for the latest public health advisories and guidance documents in your province or territory please consult the
list below:

   British Columbia
   New Brunswick

   Nova Scotia
   Prince Edward Island
   Northwest Territories

Emergency measures act
All provincial and territorial governments have declared public health emergencies within their jurisdictions
(see Appendix). This provides the respective Minister of Health with broader authority to coordinate and
implement measure to protect the public’s health during an emergency. Measures and can include
management of how the health-care workforce is used and/or deployed. Be sure to check with your
provincial/territorial jurisdiction and employer to determine what measures are being implemented and how a
state of public health emergency could potentially impact your rights and responsibilities as an essential care

Health systems
Changes to community settings: assessment centres
Nurses may be redeployed to settings that support the increasing need of testing of community members,
such as assessment centres. Assessment centres have been established in many provinces across Canada
to support enhanced testing of individuals for COVID-19. The centres operate as out-of-hospital clinics
located in the community, or less frequently in or near a hospital, where health-care providers triage, assess
and test (if eligible) individuals for COVID-19. Assessment centres are often coordinated by local public
health units and are used to manage the increasing need for testing of patients, and to steer potential
COVID-19 cases away from vulnerable persons in emergency departments and hospitals. To learn more
about assessment centres near you, visit your local health unit or provincial webpage for more details.

Changes to acute care settings: surge capacity
Many of Canada’s emergency departments and hospitals were experiencing challenges with capacity prior to
COVID-19, therefore ensuring surge capacity during COVID-19 will require significant investment of
resources and innovative solutions. Provinces and hospitals are reviewing and developing surge
protocols1,2,3 in response to current and future needs due to COVID-19. Employers should ensure nurses
are included in decision-making processes and that all staff are notified and trained appropriately to meet
surge capacity needs. Nurses should ensure they are aware of their institutions surge capacity protocols.

      Operational considerations for case management of COVID-19 in health facility and community
      — World Health Organization

1   Crawley, M. (2020, March 21). How Ontario hospitals are preparing for a surge in COVID-19 cases. CBC News. Retrieved

2   Guignard, J. (2020, March 25). Leaked SHA document shows worst-case scenario outcome of coronavirus in Saskatchewan.
Global News. Retrieved from

3   Roberts, K-A. (2020, March, 24). Province build Province builds ‘surge capacity’ for COVID-19 as minister slams ‘malicious’
social media video. NTV News. Retrieved from

Public Health Agency of Canada
PHAC’s dedicated Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) web page, as well as its Facebook and Twitter
channels, contain links to health professional guidelines, travel advisories, information on public health risk
levels, answers to frequently asked questions, and timely updates. Useful PHAC web links:

   For the general public
   For health professionals
   Travel notices

 Tweets by @GovCanHealth
        Health Canada and PHAC
        What does #physicaldistancing mean? It means
        making changes in your everyday routines to
        minimize close contact with others. Learn more: #COVID19

  Embed                                                            View on Twitter

PHAC is working with Canadian and international partners, including the World Health Organization, to
actively monitor the situation. CEO Mike Villeneuve sits on the Chief Public Health Officer’s health
professions forum — one of the ways in which health professional organizations meet to talk about public
health concerns.

Prevention and Treatment
   Prevention: General
   Prevention: CNA’s position on PPE and related knowledge/resource/practice gaps
   Treatment: Knowledge/resource/practice gaps



General prevention measures for the public include:1

   Restricting movement and travel
   Self-monitoring and self-isolating after return from travel
   Practising social distancing, also referred to as physical distancing, staying at least 2 metres away from
   Practising respiratory hygiene
   Hand washing

Prevention for nurses, health-care providers and health-care settings include all of the above, as well as the
following infection prevention and control measures:2

   Prompt identification of symptomatic persons/possible cases
   Appropriate risk assessment
   Management and placement of probable and confirmed cases
   Investigation and follow-up of close contacts

Administrative controls can assist with preventing exposure:

   Triage for identification and placement of patients
   Masks, tissues and alcohol-based hand rub at all entrances
   Prominent signage instructing symptomatic patients to promptly present to health-care providers
   Limitation of visitors and movement for symptomatic patients
   Avoiding cohorting unless absolutely necessary

Personal protective equipment (routine practices and additional precautions):

   Long-sleeved gown
   Facial protection such as surgical mask and eye protection, face shield, or surgical/procedural mask with
   visor attachment
   N95 respirator and eye protection should be worn when performing aerosol-generating medical
   procedures (AGMPs)                                                                                            /
Knowledge/resource/practice gaps

See CNA’s position on PPE and related knowledge/resource/practice gaps.

There is currently no vaccine, and treatment is limited to supportive therapy. The Public Health Agency of
Canada refers clinicians to guidance from WHO on Clinical Management of Severe Acute Respiratory
Infection when Novel Coronavirus (nCoV) is suspected. Researchers are working hard to develop a vaccine;
the earliest possible date for widespread availability is anticipated to be spring 2021.

Knowledge/practice/resource gaps:

Recent recommendations on the use of hydroxyquinolone/azithromycin as treatment for COVID-19 by some
high-profile individuals has led to anecdotal reports of people using this medication combination as
prophylaxis to prevent infection.

   CNA is aware that there may be increased demand or prescribing for hydrocholorquine/azithromycin.
   There is insufficient evidence that these drugs can prevent and/or treat COVID-19.
   In addition to its use as an anti-malarial drug, hydrochloroquine is indicated for treatment of rheumatoid
   arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus.
   We have heard of shortages occurring, resulting in patients unable to access medication indicated for
   their autoimmune disorders.
   As with all practice around medication administration, regulated nurses are encouraged to use their
   professional judgment about the appropriateness of administering these medications outside of the usual
   Likewise, nurse practitioners should use their professional judgment when considering ordering these
   medications for any purpose other than their current indications.
   There have been an abundance of anecdotal reports of U.S. clinicians writing prescriptions for this
   medication, for use by their families, friends, and themselves.
   Regulated nurses should consider their CNA is aware that there may be increased demand or prescribing
   for hydrocholorquine/azithromycin. There is insufficient evidence that these drugs can prevent and/or
   treat COVID-19.
   In addition to its use as an anti-malarial drug, hydrochloroquine is indicated for treatment of rheumatoid
   arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus.
   We have heard of shortages occurring, resulting in patients unable to access medication indicated for
   their autoimmune disorders.
   As with all practice around medication administration, regulated nurses are encouraged to use their
   professional judgment about the appropriateness of administering these medications outside of the usual
   Likewise, nurse practitioners should use their professional judgment when considering ordering these
   medications for any purpose other than their current indications.
   There have been an abundance of anecdotal reports of U.S. clinicians writing prescriptions for this
   medication, for use by their families, friends, and themselves.
   Regulated nurses should consider their ethical practice obligations, as outlined in the Code of Ethics, if
   they are aware of clinicians prescribing this combination of medications in a manner that appears



Clinical Considerations
   Vulnerable populations
   Detection and reporting
   Knowledge/resource/practice gaps
   Case and contact management

Vulnerable populations
Most people who get COVID-19 will experience mild to moderate symptoms. However, as the evidence rolls
in, some groups of our population are at higher risk for more serious illness, complications and death. These
groups include:1,2,3,4

   Older adults (>60 years old)
   Chronic or pre-existing conditions (i.e., heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, chronic respiratory
   disease, cancer)
   Individuals with a compromised immune system

Socio-economic factors can also contribute to increasing vulnerability of individuals to COVID-19, increasing
their risk of negative health outcomes. This includes people who use substances, are unsheltered, employed
in precarious work, live in isolated communities, all of whom may face additional challenges in applying
preventive strategies or gaining access to necessary resources.5,6 The Public Health Agency of Canada
(PHAC) provides some guidance on how organizations and health-care providers can support vulnerable

There is considerable evidence to indicate that many people infected with COVID-19 may have little or no
symptoms at all. For those who do develop symptoms, they may take up to 14 days to appear, though the
average is 5-6 days from exposure to symptom onset. PHAC notes that there is research being conducted to
confirm if the virus can be transmitted while an infected individual is asymptomatic. This is believed to be
possible, but not confirmed.7

   Symptoms can include: cough, fever, difficulty breathing, pneumonia. The Public Health Agency of
   Canada has an online symptom self-assessment tool.

Evidence from China, Italy, South Korea and Germany indicates that significant numbers of patients with
confirmed COVID-19 have anosmia, or loss of smell. In South Korea, many patients with otherwise mild
COVID-19 disease had anosmia as their main presenting symptom. This is not currently considered a
symptom of COVID-19, and research is continuing in this area. Globally, there has been discussion that
requiring those with anosmia to self-quarantine may help to limit spread.8,9                                    /
Detection and reporting
Diagnosis of COVID-19 is made through a combination of examining clinical presentation, epidemiology, and
lab confirmation. Specimens are usually tested locally/provincially and then sent to the National Microbiology
Laboratory (NML) for confirmation. Several provinces are now able to do confirmatory testing themselves.
NML conducts confirmatory testing on all specimens, where confirmatory testing is not yet available in

Important information on diagnosis and reporting from the Public Health Agency of Canada:10

    Familiarize yourself with the interim national case definition for COVID-19 to consider the possibility of
    COVID-19 in persons with relevant clinical and exposure history.
    Familiarize yourself with the Interim National COVID-19 Case Report Form, to facilitate case reporting of
    confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases.
        Provincial/territorial public health authorities should report confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases
        to PHAC within 24 hours of their own notification.
        PHAC must report events that meet the requirements for International Health Regulations Articles 6
        and 7 to the WHO within 24 hours of assessment of public health information.
        The Protocol for Microbiological Investigations of Severe Acute Respiratory Infections (SARI) will help
        to facilitate the diagnosis of severe respiratory infections due to both unknown and known respiratory
        pathogens that have the potential for large-scale epidemics.

Familiarize yourself with the guidance on the public health management of cases and contacts associated
with COVID-19.

As testing may vary by province, we encourage you to seek specific information from the jurisdiction in which
you reside or practise.

    British Columbia*
    New Brunswick*

    Nova Scotia*
    Prince Edward Island
    Northwest Territories

* Denotes provinces with the capacity to do their own confirmatory testing at time of writing

Knowledge/resource/practice gaps
While the position of the WHO related to COVID-19 identification and containment is “test, test, test,” that is
currently not the practice in Canada. Nationally, there are recommendations for who should be tested,
though that may vary by province. At the outset of the outbreak in Canada, the majority of                        /
provinces/territories were only testing symptomatic persons with a positive travel history, close contacts of
confirmed cases, and hospitalized persons with severe illness consistent with COVID-19. Testing of those
without travel history or known close contact was not widely done, though that appears to be changing, as
some provinces are shifting to test community clusters. Asymptomatic individuals are not being tested, as
per current recommendations.

At the time of writing, there are significant barriers to broad testing, including resource availability. Test kits,
reagents and lab capacity issues are themes we are hearing across the country. These challenges mean
that testing remains more conservative than we may see in other countries, and as such, the true
number of cases and true rate of community transmission is not known.

Case and contact management
Management of cases and contacts may vary by province. PHAC’s recommendations on case and contact
management focuses on the following:

Case management

      Reporting and notification
      Lab testing
      Clinical management/treatment
      Case management in home and co-living situations
      Public health monitoring of cases and persons under investigation (PUIs)

Contact management

      As per PHAC, the purpose of contact management is twofold:
         To identify contacts and support containment, reducing transmission to others in the community
         To gain more information/understanding about SARS CoV 2
      Depending on exposure level risk assessment, contacts are placed into either high, medium, or low risk
      categories, and managed according to the corresponding recommendations for that risk level.

1   The Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia Emergency Response Epidemiology Team. (2020). The epidemiological characteristics of
an outbreak of 2019 novel coronavirus diseases (COVID-19) — China, 2020. Retrieved from

2   Public Health Agency of Canada. (2020, March). Vulnerable populations and COVID-19. Retrieved from

3   Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, March, 22). People who are at higher risk for severe illness. Retrieved

4   British Columbia Centre for Disease Control. (n.d.). Vulnerable populations. Retrieved from

5   Ibid.

6   Public Health Agency of Canada. (2020, March). Vulnerable populations and COVID-19. Retrieved from

7                      /



Resources and FAQs
CNA resources

What you need to know while working during COVID-19 [PDF, 81.9 KB]

Staying Healthy During a Pandemic [PDF, 82.2 KB]

Tips for nurses to help limit the spread of COVID-19 at home: CNA has collected some practical information
and tips that nurses can use and adapt to help limit the spread at home.

Patient education to prevent COVID-19: During a pandemic, a primary concern is to stop or slow the spread
of the virus as much as possible. See how the public can help and download helpful resources

Additional resources

The World Health Organization has provided free OpenWHO courses on COVID-19 for health-care
providers. Courses include:

Emerging Respiratory Viruses, Including COVID-19: Methods for Detection, Prevention, Response and
   Clinical Care Severe Acute Respiratory Infection
   eProtect Respiratory infections
   Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
   COVID-19: Operational Planning Guidelines and COVID-19 Partners Platform to Support Country
   Preparedness and Response

Pallium and CMA have made the following resource free for all health-care providers:

   6 Learning Essential Approaches to Palliative Care (LEAP) modules

Other resources:

   The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) and its member organizations have resources to
   support nurses in the workplace.
   “The Road to a Vaccine” live weekly original eight-episode educational series, produced by Johnson &
   Johnson. Every Tuesday at 12 p.m. ET, starting April 14. After airing, episodes will be archived for
   viewing anytime.

Frequently asked questions
What is coronavirus disease (COVID-19?
The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was first detected in a cluster of cases of pneumonia in Wuhan, China,
on December 31, 2019. A coronavirus is a type of virus that can infect both humans and animals. Other
types of coronavirus have infected humans before, namely SARS and MERS-CoV. COVID-19 was confirmed
as a new coronavirus that has not previously been identified in humans.

How will my role change in light of the pandemic?
This will likely depend on your employer and the pandemic preparedness plans in place. All provinces and
territories have now declared states of emergency due to COVID-19. As a result, this provides ministries of
health with the authority to redistribute health-care workforces based on need. You may be redeployed to a
different role, unit or an assessment and testing centre to support the COVID-19 pandemic. For more
information on ethical dilemmas, considerations and responsibilities during a pandemic, read what CNA’s
Code of Ethics has to say.

What is CNA’s role during the COVID-19 pandemic?
As the national professional association for regulated nurses, CNA’s role focuses on advocacy to address
and mitigate challenges experienced by nurses, improve health outcomes for the public, and develop
evidence-informed resources to support nurses in their practice. CNA also coordinates with the International
Council of Nurses to represent the voice of Canadian nursing globally. During the COVID-19 pandemic, CNA
has advocated to federal and provincial ministers for policies, resources and the support nurses need to
provide safe, quality and ethical care.

CNA continues to monitor the situation closely and be responsive to the needs of regulated nurses who are
working during this unprecedented public health crisis.

Is COVID-19 airborne?
Current evidence indicates that the virus causing COVID-19 is mainly transmitted by respiratory droplets and
close contact. The virus may become airborne during aerosol generating medical procedures (AGMPs).
Guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is
based on this current evidence. Exactly which procedures are considered to be an AGMP may differ based
on provincial/territorial definition; please refer to your jurisdictional guidelines. The situation is evolving and
we continue to monitor for any changes in the evidence or guidance. See WHO’s summary of evidence.

What level of personal protective equipment (PPE) should I use when providing care for patient with
suspected or confirmed COVID-19?
The current recommendations from the Public Health Agency of Canada require contact and droplet
precautions, which include facial protection (with surgical or procedure mask and eye protection —
goggles, safety glasses, visor, or face shield), gown and gloves for routine care of a suspect or confirmed
cases of COVID-19.

For aerosol-generating medical procedures (AGMPs), N95 respirators are required in place of a surgical
mask. This recommendation is informed by the current evidence that indicates COVID-19 is spread through
respiratory droplets from coughing, sneezing or prolonged personal contact. Each province/territory may
develop separate guidance; therefore, it is important to determine what the provincial and organizational
guidance states in your place of work.

CNA believes regulated nurses and other health-care workers should be provided with the maximum level of
protection available to them and that the choice for appropriate protection used in clinical situations in
hospitals are made by providers in each situation. Regulated nurses are well prepared to make those
decisions — but they base them on sound guidelines and evidence and they need to be able to quickly
access appropriate protection for the clinical situation at hand. Read CNA’s position on personal protective

Is there any treatment or cure for COVID-19?
There is currently no vaccine or approved treatment for COVID-19. Researchers are working hard to develop
a vaccine; the earliest possible date for widespread availability is anticipated to be spring 2021.

Can I use a cloth or homemade face mask?
There have been increased reports of limited resources and supplies — in particular surgical masks and N95
respirators — for regulated nurses across Canada. Many nurses have inquired if cloth or homemade masks
are acceptable for use. Current guidance from Health Canada emphasizes using caution with homemade
masks, as they are not regulated and may not be effective in blocking virus particles. For further direction,
please refer to your organization or provincial/territorial health authority.

What resources are available to support nurses’ mental health during a pandemic?


   The Canadian Psychological Association has a list of psychologists who are donating time to offer free
   telephone support to point-of-care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
   Health Link BC – Stress Management: Breathing Exercises for Relaxation
   The Working Mind – COVID-19 Self care and Resilience Guide

Information resources

   Managing Stress & Self-care during COVID-19: Information for Nurses — American Psychiatric Nurses
   Supporting the psychosocial well-being of health care providers during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)
   pandemic — British Columbia Centre for Disease Control and British Columbia Ministry of Health
Manage anxiety & stress — Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
   Choosing sources of information carefully is critical to COVID-19 mental well-being, says Mental Health
   Commission of Canada — Mental Health Commission of Canada
   Mental health and psychosocial considerations during COVID-19 outbreak — World Health Organization
   Mental health and the COVID-19 — Centre for Addition and Mental Health pandemic


Thank a Nurse
We invite you and your family to recognize nurses for all their hard work in responding to COVID-19. Join
and share our Thank a Nurse campaign!

    First, hand-write a thank-you note or draw a picture.
    It’s a great activity for kids! You can use our “thank
    you nurses” template (available as a PDF [PDF, 643.5
    KB] or JPG [JPG, 144.6 KB]) to help get you started.
    Next, share your message or picture by emailing a
    good quality image to
    or by posting it on social media.
       If you email it to us, we’ll post it for you on our
       social media accounts.
       If you post it on social media, be sure to tag us so we can share your creation! Facebook @CNA.AIIC,
       Twitter @canadanurses, and Instagram @canadanurses. Also, please use the hashtags
       #ThankYouNurses #YearoftheNurseandMidwife #FlattenTheCurve.
    Finally, if you see someone else’s thank-you message or drawing, be sure to share it!

Nurses across Canada will see your messages and be moved by the outpouring of support. Thank a nurse
today — they deserve it!

This is an especially important time to recognize nurses because the World Health Organization deemed
2020 to be the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife.


World Health Organization
On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus outbreak to be a pandemic.
Read the latest on WHO’s website.

 Tweets by @WHO
       World Health Organization (WHO)
       Replying to @WHO
       Join our Q&A on physical activity at home during
       #COVID19 with our expert @fiona_bull! #AskWHO…


       World Health Organization (WHO)

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International Council of Nurses (ICN)
April 1: ICN president Annette Kennedy expresses ICN’s support [PDF, 94.2 KB] for CNA’s response to the
COVID-19 outbreak.

March 27: ICN hosts two webinars to update national nursing associations on the latest developments on
COVID-19. The webinars were chaired by president Annette Kennedy and CEO Howard Catton; they were
joined by WHO chief nursing officer Elizabeth Iro. The first webinar focused on Asia and the second webinar
focused on Europe and Asia.

Visit ICN’s website to learn more about COVID-19.

CNA Advocacy

“As the professional and union representatives of Canada’s nurses, the Canadian Nurses Association and
Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions are with you, shoulder to shoulder, in this very tough public health
emergency of international concern.” Read a joint letter [PDF, 127.9 KB] to the Hon. Patricia Hajdu and Dr.
Theresa Tam.

“We must ensure those working directly with the public, including physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and social
workers, are properly protected and supported, so that they can continue to play their role in the response.”
Read a joint letter [PDF, 201.1 KB] to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Canada’s Premiers from CNA, the
Canadian Association of Social Workers, the Canadian Indigenous Nurses Association, the Canadian
Medical Association, and the Canadian Pharmacists Association.


“With dedicated funds now in place, we ask that the government of Ontario act immediately to deploy
resources to ensure that point-of-care nurses and other health professionals have access to the protective
equipment they need to safely deliver care throughout this crisis.” Read a joint letter [PDF, 190.5 KB] to the
government of Ontario from CNA, the Nurse Practitioners’ Association of Ontario and the Registered
Practical Nurses Association of Ontario.

Conversations with the President
Coffee with Claire webinars
CNA is hearing from our members that among all the emerging science and social media opinions
circulating, there is a need for current, reliable evidence-based information on COVID-19. In response, CNA
president Claire Betker will host a series of conversations with experts and question-and-answer sessions
with nurses across Canada.

These webinars will be hosted at 12 p.m. ET at the end of every week. Click a title to register for the webinar
or watch a recording.

   April 3: Conversations on COVID-19 with CNA’s president
   April 9: PPE and ethical dilemmas
   April 17: Mental health and psychological safety for nurses responding to COVID-19
   April 24: Details to be announced soon

“Regulated nurses are an excellent source of information during the coronavirus outbreak. They are well
positioned to play an important role both within their communities and the facilities in which they work.”
CNA president Claire Betker. Other interviews:

   February 3
   March 13
   March 26
   March 27
   March 31

Message from the CEO
                          As we have just moved into spring 2020, we find ourselves facing the most
                          pressing global public health emergency since the Spanish Flu pandemic a
                          century ago. The rapid spread of the novel coronavirus, now called COVID-19,
                          around the world has caused a growing anxiety across societies.

                          We have passed 500,000 cases globally, states of emergency have been
                          declared in many countries, and we are inundated with emerging science mixed in
                          with social media opinions and even fake news stories — together fuelling
                          confusion among health-care providers and the public in general. The reality of
                          our federated governance here in Canada has also led to inconsistent information
and guidelines across the provinces and territories despite the strong messaging coming from the Public
Health Agency of Canada, the federal Minister of Health and even the Prime Minister.

To provide clarity to the nursing workforce, CNA has analyzed the available evidence and we will update this
website as new evidence emerges. The website includes public policy and health systems responses,
clinical considerations, implications for the nursing workforce, and case/contact management and treatment.
We hope it will help nurses and their organizations to inform decisions in this very challenging situation.

Mike Villeneuve, RN, M.Sc., FAAN
Chief Executive Officer

April 15 — Global total confirmed cases passes two million.

April 10 — Global death toll surpasses 100,000. Actual death toll considered to be higher.

April 9 — Canada surpasses 20,000 confirmed cases. Federal government releases federal modeling
estimates. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau notes that current public health measures could extend as long as
a year and a half. “This will be the new normal, until a vaccine is developed.”

April 6 — Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam advises public to use non-medical face mask in
addition to physical distancing measures to reduce spread.

April 2 — Canada reports over 10,000 confirmed cases. Global total confirmed cases passes one million.

March 26 — Over 500,000 cases of COVID-19 worldwide; U.S. passes China in total number of confirmed
cases, over 80,000 each

March 25 — Canada imposes mandatory 14-day self-isolation for any person entering Canada1
         — 12 of Canada’s 13 provinces and territories had confirmed cases2

March 24 — Cases related to community transmission surpass travel-related cases in Canada3

March 23 — Over 300,000 cases of COVID-19 worldwide

March 22 — All provinces and territories in Canada have declared public health emergencies

March 19 — Over 200,000 cases of COVID-19 worldwide4

March 18 — Canada-U.S. border closed to all non-essential travel

March 16 — Canada banned entry of all non-Canadian or non-permanent residents into Canada
         — Canada advises to avoid all non-essential travel outside the country.5

March 13 — Europe declared epicentre of COVID-196

March 11 — WHO declares COVID-19 a global pandemic7

March 9 — Canada confirms first death8

March 7 — Over 100,00 cases of COVID-19 worldwide9

January 30 — WHO declares a Public Health Emergency of International concern

January 25 — First case detected in Canada10

December 31 — WHO notified of atypical pneumonia cases in China.





5   Ibid


7   Ibid




State of Emergency Declarations
As of March 25, 2020


   Declaration: State of Emergency declared through Public Health Act on March 20, 2020.
   Timeline: 14 days
   *potential for renewal
      News Release
      Public Health Act


   Declaration: State of Emergency declared under the Public Health Act on March 17, 2020.
   Timeline: 30 days
   *potential for renewal
      News Release
      Public Health Act

Prince Edward Island

   Declaration: State of Emergency declared under the Public Health Act on March 16, 2020.
   Timeline: 30 days*
   *potential for renewal
      Public Health Act
      News Release

British Columbia

   Declaration: State of Emergency declared under Emergency Programs Act on March 18, 2020.
   Timeline: 14 days*
   *potential for renewal
      News release
      Emergency Programs Act

Declaration: State of Emergency declared under The Emergencies Measures Act on March 20, 2020.
  Timeline: 30 days
  *potential for renewal
     News Release
     The Emergencies Measures Act


  Declaration: State of Emergency declared under The Emergency Planning Act on March 18, 2020.
  Timeline: 14 days*
  *potential for renewal
     News Release
     The Emergency Planning Act


  Declaration: State of Emergency declared on March 13, 2020.
  Renewed on March 20, 2020, for an additional 10 days.
  Timeline: The state of emergency has lasted since March 13, 2020, and can be applied for a maximum
  period of 30 days.
     Order in Council declaring state of emergency

Nova Scotia

  Declaration: State of Emergency declared under Emergency Management Act on March 22, 2020.
  Timeline: 14 days*
  *potential for renewal
     News Release

New Brunswick

  Declaration: State of Emergency declared March 19, 2020.

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