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Coronavirus: Head of Ontario registered nurses union says 9M masks per week are needed

Coronavirus outbreak: Ontario health officer says province has most tests done, lab capacity an issue
WATCH ABOVE: Ontario chief medical officer of health Dr. David Williams defended the province's testing rate on Monday when asked about an analysis by Global News that found it had tested fewer people on a per capita basis than any other province.

The head of the Ontario nurses’ association says she is outraged with both federal and provincial governments because both are not doing enough to procure sufficient personal protection equipment (PPE) for frontline health care workers amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Doris Grinspun, Chief Executive officer of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario, confirmed to Global News that several of her members have contracted COVID-19 and she said it is due to a lack of PPE.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: 8 employees at Toronto Public Health headquarters test positive for COVID-19

“Several are in self-isolation because they were told not to use a mask and the patient was positive,” she said.

She said she wants both Ottawa and Queen’s Park to immediately adjust their procurement framework, noting France has ordered over a billion surgical masks.

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Using that country as a model and adjusting for Canada’s population Grinspun said, “We need nine million per week…nine million a week! So the feds need to move first of all, and they aren’t moving nor is the province.”

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Citing anecdotes from nurses she speaks with dealing with the crisis on a daily basis she said she is worried about a worst case scenario hitting Ontario and the rest of the country in the weeks ahead.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Ontario government orders shutdown of all outdoor recreation amenities

“These are not stories, people have died, their workers have died.”

“Watch the news in the U.S., that is the worst case scenario,” Grinspun continued. “Worst case scenario is that nurses don’t have the masks, doctors don’t have the masks, they are using trash bags to cover their bodies.

“Worst case scenario is pictures of bodies piling up in a tent morgue, it’s happening a few hours from us in New York. It’s happening right now.”

The federal government has signed three contracts with companies since March 20 to produce equipment like masks and rapid tests for the coronavirus as part of the government’s $2-billion effort to buy PPE.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Monday that the province would be “severely challenged” if there was a major spike in COVID-19 cases.

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“It will take time for local production to ramp up and for new supplies to reach us,” he said.

“The reality is, if there’s a massive surge of people coming into our hospitals in the next two weeks, our supply lines will be seriously challenged.”

Grinspun said she is alarmed at the sheer number of reports she is hearing from frontline staff who are concerned about the lack of PPE, saying the government needs to ensure health organizations don’t have to ration.

“When people go to work, they go to work to take care of the most difficult situations, they don’t go to work to think that they may not come home- that is not normal,” she said.