You are likely aware of recent reports of a new coronavirus. The majority of cases have been reported in specific provinces in China, with other countries affected including Japan, South Korea, and the United States. There have been a very small number of reported and confirmed cases of the virus in Canada. The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is providing updated information about the status of coronavirus in Ontario every day on their website.

In the majority of cases, individuals have experienced mild symptoms. Symptoms include respiratory complaints, fever, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing. Severe cases can result in pneumonia, kidney failure and death. The only way to confirm the virus is with a lab test.

This situation presents an excellent opportunity to review infection prevention and control policies and procedures in your work environment. Whether you work in a hospital, agency, community clinic or private practice, we encourage you to have conversations with your colleagues, managers and directors (as applicable) about the measures you can take to help reduce the risk of infection spreading.  Note that some settings will already have a protocol to manage these situations.

Registered Psychotherapists are encouraged to consider putting in place the following measures until the risk passes:

  • Encouraging clients with fever, cough or difficulty breathing to make appropriate alternate arrangements for appointments (if possible), including distance appointments or rescheduling appointments for a later date
  • Relaxing appointment rescheduling and cancellation policies until such time that risk has passed, e.g. by waiving cancellation fees
  • Making tissues, a garbage can, and hand sanitizer (or a handwashing station) available in your setting
  • Engaging in proper handwashing technique between sessions with clients
  • Seeking medical care early if you yourself are experiencing symptoms and providing your health provider with information about travel

RPs and other health care providers can also review Public Health Ontario’s Routine Practices and Additional Cautions materials.

Trusted information sources:

Public Health Ontario

Public Health Agency of Canada

World Health Organization