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6 Langley, B.C. firefighters in isolation due to possible coronavirus exposure

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Eight firefighters from the Township of Langley Fire Department were placed under isolation at home, after possibly being exposed to a coronavirus patient during an emergency call. Catherine Urquhart reports – Mar 17, 2020

A top Langley fire official is reminding the public to be sure to tell emergency dispatchers if they may be a coronavirus exposure risk, after eight firefighters were put in isolation due to COVID-19.

Langley Township Deputy Fire Chief Bruce Ferguson said the firefighters were potentially exposed to the virus during a medical call on March 9.

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He said Fraser Health notified the fire department, and the firefighters were self-isolated immediately.

“From all accounts they’re doing fine, Fraser Health is in contact with them daily, I’ve spoken to some of them,” he said.

“Other than that they’re worried about what this exposure means to them, they seem to be in good health and good spirits.”

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Ferguson said two of the firefighters have since been cleared, but six must remain in isolation for another week.

“We run that risk every time we go into somebody’s home to service them, whatever that service may be,” he said.

READ MORE: Dr. Bonnie Henry and Adrian Dix answer your coronavirus questions at Global BC Town Hall

“We do take the necessary precautions, we have personal protective equipment (PPE) we can wear in there, but sometimes the issue doesn’t present itself as serious as it is and you can get into an exposure situation.”

Earlier Tuesday, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addressed concerns about paramedics being exposed to the virus while attending long-term care and assisted living facilities on the North Shore and a call in the Fraser Valley.

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“I know that there’s a detailed investigation that’s done in [relation to] each person,” she said, adding that everyone with a known possible exposure is notified.
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“The standard of care for pre-hospital care is that paramedics should always be wearing PPE that includes gloves and gowns and masks and eye protection whenever they are around people, picking up people who have respiratory and other illnesses.”

READ MORE: B.C. suspends K-12 classes indefinitely amid coronavirus pandemic, says economic help coming

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On Tuesday, Dr. Henry declared a public health emergency as she announced 83 new cases in the province and three new deaths.

The large spike in newly confirmed cases was due to a backlog of test results as new testing facilities came online, the province said.