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Non-essential dental services paused after COVID-19 cases linked to Vancouver dental conference

Some new COVID-19 cases connected to huge dental convention in Vancouver
WATCH: Some new COVID-19 cases connected to huge dental convention in Vancouver

The College of Dental Surgeons of B.C. has announced all elective and non-essential dental services are to be suspended immediately.

This comes as B.C.’s top doctor is asking all attendees of last week’s Pacific Dental Conference in Vancouver to self-isolate after a number of COVID-19 cases were linked to the event.

Dr. Bonnie Henry said Monday that her office has connected the conference, which occurred March 5-7 at the Vancouver Convention Centre, to at least four new cases.

“We also know that cases have been identified from that conference in other provinces across the country,” Henry said, including Alberta and Ontario.

“My instructions are that anyone who was at that conference needs to self-isolate immediately. They should not be at work. They should not be at school. They should not be around others. This is the critical time where we are seeing people show up ill from that conference.”

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The Pacific Dental Conference is one of the largest dental conferences in North America, and had more than 15,000 attendees.

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Everyone who attended the event has received a letter from Vancouver Coastal Health regarding the concerns.

The College’s decision will be place until further notice.

There are strict protocols in place for dentists performing emergency dental work.

“All registrants must perform a thorough pre-treatment risk assessment that includes risk to the patient, to the oral heath care provider and to the greater community before any treatment is undertaken,” a memo released Monday afternoon from the college reads.

“If risks are identified that cannot be immediately or sufficiently mitigated, the determined care must be postponed or referred to an appropriate provider. Pre-screening of patients by phone is preferable. Offices should develop a pre-screening protocol for patients who present in person.”

Henry said she was aware of one attendee who developed symptoms at the conference and left after being there for a short period of time.

Now, officials believe multiple attendees were sick and went home to different places in Canada and around the world, because many people who have COVID-19 don’t start to show symptoms until several days after have contracted it.

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“This is really urgent,” Henry said. “This just became apparent when we looked at some of the exposure histories of people who became ill over the weekend.”

Henry said she is not aware of any cases where attendees went back and operated their dental offices.

READ MORE: Attendee at dental conference at Vancouver Convention Centre tests positive for coronavirus

The Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario issued a message to its members on the weekend recommending all non-essential and elective dental services should be suspended immediately.