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Blood pressure cuffs, other gear at risk of COVID-19 contamination: Vancouver health authority

Click to play video 'Study finds blood pressure cuffs and other medical gear at risk for COVID-19 contamination' Study finds blood pressure cuffs and other medical gear at risk for COVID-19 contamination
Study finds blood pressure cuffs and other medical gear at risk for COVID-19 contamination

Staff have replaced shared blood pressure cuffs and other medical equipment at long-term care facilities in Vancouver Coastal Health after research found the gear could be at risk of COVID-19 contamination.

Staff collected samples at three long-term care homes experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks, the health authority said Friday, swabbing 89 surfaces, including entrances, kitchens, staff communal areas, nursing stations, and care areas.

Six of the samples tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Person-to-person transmission is believed to be the primary driver of outbreaks in long-term care facilities, said VCH, but their research found that medical equipment is a potential route for transmission.

Click to play video 'Canada’s long-term care home deaths double the average of other developed nations: report' Canada’s long-term care home deaths double the average of other developed nations: report
Canada’s long-term care home deaths double the average of other developed nations: report

The virus was detected on four of the nine standard reusable blood pressure cuffs that were tested, as well as on the handle of a mobile linen cart and on the touch display of an electronic tablet used for medication records.

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The preliminary findings, which were published in the American Journal of Infection Control, have led to changes at its long-term care facilities, the health authority said.

Shared blood pressure cuffs and other medical equipment were replaced with either disposable cuffs or dedicated equipment that is not shared between patients.

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Family demands answers in COVID-19 case at Langley long-term care facility

“The findings of the study have informed our response to long-term care outbreaks and highlight the need to be vigilant against COVID-19,” Dr. Michael Schwandt, medical health officer and article co-author said in a statement.

“Doing this type of research doesn’t just help us manage outbreaks now, it adds to the science on COVID-19 transmission so VCH and other health authorities have a better understanding of this new virus and so we can respond more effectively in the future.”

Nineteen people have died of COVID-19 at the Holy Family Hospital facility, the site of the sole ongoing outbreak in the Vancouver Coastal Health region.  Fifty-three residents and 35 staff members have been diagnosed with the disease.

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