Paramedics union mad they weren’t told about coronavirus finding

A Toronto ambulance is pictured in this file image.

The union that represents two Toronto paramedics who transported Canada’s first presumptive case of the coronavirus to hospital on Saturday say they’re upset they had to hear about the man’s likely diagnosis from the news, but officials say that is standard procedure.

Shortly after public health officials announced they had all but confirmed Canada’s first case of the coronavirus, in a man in his 50s currently recovering at Sunnybrook Hospital, TCEU Paramedic Services said the two paramedics that transported him had to find out about the severity of the situation by watching the news.

“Unfortunately, the Paramedics who transported this patient just found this out from the media and your tweet,” they wrote, referring to the official release about the discovery by Toronto Public Health. They also claimed the paramedics weren’t wearing proper protective equipment when they transported the man to hospital on Thursday.

They later backtracked, saying that they did wear protective gear and that the public health unit told Paramedic leadership about the probable coronavirus diagnosis, but not the two paramedics who transported the patient.

“It remains unacceptable that they were not informed of the change in condition prior to the media release.”

But health officials say they followed standard procedure, and did not move to specifically notify the two paramedics that they likely transported someone suffering from coronavirus to hospital, because they were wearing full protective gear and were not at risk of contracting the illness themselves.

“When Toronto Public Health is notified that paramedics have used full personal protective equipment and there is no potential exposure of concern, we do not follow up with these individuals and we do not notify them of the patient’s test lab results,” Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Rita Shahin told CP24. “In this situation, the paramedics used full personal protective equipment and no follow up was therefore necessary.”

The patient at Sunnybrook is being treated in a negative pressure room by health care workers wearing full protective gear.

As of Saturday morning, he remains Canada’s only presumptive positive case of the virus.

Across the globe, 1,975 people have been diagnosed, with 56 deaths, almost all of them within China.