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B.C. nurses demand mandatory social isolation

Squamish healthcare worker signs open letter calling for shutdown of non-essential workplaces

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues in B.C., those on the frontlines of healthcare are asking for the government to implement more drastic social distancing measures.

In an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier John Horgan, shared with the The Chief on March 24, nurses said the warning from doctors to slow the spread of COVID-19 must be heeded.

"The measures taken so far have been welcome, but they are not sufficient," the letter states. "This is an emergency. We need to act like it's an emergency."

More than 120 nurses signed the letter, from more than 40 healthcare facilities, including Danika Semeniuk, a licensed practical nurse from the Hilltop House in Squamish, and 10 registered nurses from Lions Gate Hospital.

"The only step that can prevent this is massive social distancing on a scale qualitatively beyond what has been done so far, because what has been done so far is simply not working."

Covid 19 Open Letter by Jennifer Thuncher on Scribd

The letter calls for the closure of non-essential workplaces, with healthcare facilities, grocery stores, gas stations and pharmacies being the exception.

"Social distancing requires that we house the homeless, but in a way that disperses them rather than jamming them into shelters that will only accelerate the virus' spread. There are thousands of unoccupied housing units, hotel rooms and motel rooms in the Lower Mainland. They need to be accessed," the letter states.

It goes on to say people who have lost their employment need financial support, and guaranteed supplies to households under quarantine. For those working in essential services, daycare needs also need to be addressed.

"Governments must take every step they can to remove the barriers that force people — especially poor people — to ignore calls to stay at home."