The swine flu outbreak has yet to effect the provincial civil service. But, in an email sent to bureaucrats yesterday, the premier's deputy minister Jessica McDonald warned that outbreak is expected to expand. As a result, Ms. McDonald has advised employees who "have recently been to Mexico, the U.S. or any other region where swine influenza cases are being reported, and are exhibiting symptoms of a new respiratory illness with fever" to "stay at home and contact their health care provider."
Meanwhile, everyone else is being encouraged to be "particularly vigilant in practicing standard flu avoidance steps, including frequent hand washing, covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, and keeping hard surfaces in the workplace clean." The following is a complete copy of that email.
From: McDonald, Jessica
Sent: Wednesday, April 29, 2009 1:22 PM
Subject: The Swine Influenza Outbreak and the BC Public Service
Recognizing that you are probably following the progress of the swine influenza outbreak with great interest, I wanted to provide an update for you on how this relates to the BC Public Service.
First, I want to thank all those across government who have been involved in preparing the province's response. Staff from across ministries have been involved in that work and are engaged in both planning for the potential impact should the outbreak continue to spread and also in helping ensure the public has accurate and current information about the swine influenza and the small number of mild cases identified so far in B.C.
Beyond those directly involved in that response, there has not been any impact on the operations of the BC Public Service as a result of this outbreak. I assure you that we continue to monitor the situation and will keep you informed as necessary if action is needed to ensure the health and safety of our employees, or if ministry operations will be interrupted or there are extra demands on our delivery systems. While it is expected that the outbreak will expand, it is important to keep in perspective that the impact to date in B.C. has been very small and our province has a comprehensive response plan in place for events such as this.
As you may know, Canadians have now been advised to avoid unnecessary travel to Mexico, where this outbreak originated. I know that has created some concern in work units where you may have co-workers currently vacationing in Mexico. For work groups where that is the case, I encourage supervisors to ensure that employees who have recently visited Mexico are aware of the public health advisories in place. Employees who have recently been to Mexico, the U.S. or any other region where swine influenza cases are being reported, and are exhibiting symptoms of a new respiratory illness with fever, should stay home and contact their health care provider.
All employees are encouraged to be particularly vigilant in practicing standard flu avoidance steps, including frequent hand washing, covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, and keeping hard surfaces in the workplace clean. Full information on these and other steps to help avoid infection is available online at www.fightflu.ca. All British Columbians can call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1, 24 hours a day/seven days a week if you have questions or concerns, or if feeling ill.
Updates on the impact of the outbreak in B.C. are being provided regularly by the Ministry of Healthy Living and Sport and the Ministry of Health Services, and that information is available on the ministries' websites. I strongly encourage you to rely on these and other authoritative sources for the most current and factual information about the swine flu outbreak.
We will continue to provide links to the latest provincial updates through the @Work employee intranet, and I will provide further updates on the impact for the BC Public Service as necessary.
Deputy Minister to the Premier and
Head of the BC Public Service