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Message from OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas on the coronavirus outbreak

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We are closely monitoring developments regarding the coronavirus file.

As you have heard there is a very small number of confirmed cases in Ontario, but OPSEU is taking precautionary steps to ensure we are ready for current and future developments.

To be as prepared as possible, I am creating an expert working group of OPSEU health care professionals and other sectoral leaders to monitor reports and offer advice.

I have also written to the Minister of Health to inform her that OPSEU’s interest is to ensure everyone’s safety. Our members are among the most knowledgeable in the province, equipped with the skills and tools to respond quickly and efficiently.

The best response from all of us is vigilance, but not panic. Be aware of the symptoms and take every effort to reduce the risk of transmission.

We are mindful that should the virus not be controlled, it has the potential to not only affect our members in the health care sector, but in all workplaces where OPSEU members are present.

OPSEU will share any information that will assist in keeping our members and the public informed and safe. Our province has strong protocols in place for situations like this. We faced this before with SARS in 2003 and emerged with more knowledge and abilities.

I urge the government to draw on that expertise of our frontline professionals.

For now, you can protect yourself and those around you in some very simple ways: wash your hands often and cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing.

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas