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Respiratory Virus Information for Patients

Frequently asked questions for BC Women’s patients about respiratory viruses, including COVID-19.
July 26, 2023

The best source of up-to-date information on respiratory viruses and COVID-19 in British Columbia is the BC Centre for Disease Control website


If you are waiting for a surgery, you will be contacted to reschedule your surgery or procedure.

Please call the clinic you have the appointment with and share information about your symptoms (including any new fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, painful swallowing, stuffy or runny nose, loss of sense of smell, headache, muscle aches, fatigue or loss of appetite). A physician or nurse will assess the urgency of the appointment and provide guidance. If you have symptoms of a respiratory illness, remind each health care provider that is taking care of you.

It is still safe to seek care. Please consider wearing mask if you have any cold or flu symptoms. We ask that you please continue to clean your hands at the hospital entrances and throughout your visit.

The most important thing you can do to prevent COVID-19 is to clean your hands regularly and avoid touching your face. Clean your hands often with alcohol-based hand sanitizer or soap and water, especially after touching shared surfaces or objects and before eating. Pregnant women need to be careful with the hand sanitizer they use. Read the label before use as some products, including acetylaldehyde, are not appropriate during pregnancy or when breastfeeding.  

Please consider wearing a mask if you have any cold or flu symptoms. 

Find out more on the BCCDC website about:

‎ ‎On April 6, 2023, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced changes to the COVID-19 guidance for health care settings. This change included an end to universal masking.

To protect our clinically vulnerable patients, we will continue to make masks available at the entrances to our hospital. We may also require masks in some areas of our hospital.

Please consider wearing a mask if you have any cold or flu symptoms . We ask that you please continue to clean your hands at the hospital entrance and throughout your visit.

There will still be some situations where masks will be required in health-care settings or situations where they have always been required to protect high-risk patients against respiratory transmitted infections and protect workers against high-risk exposure to infectious diseases.

Thank your for your patience as we work to make these changes.

Prenatal concerns

Though most disease in pregnant women is mild, Canadian data has shown pregnant women with COVID-19 are at an increased risk of being hospitalized and being admitted to intensive care units. COVID-19 is also associated with an increase in preterm births (before the 37th week of pregnancy) in Canada. Some babies born to women with COVID-19 are admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit. Transmission of the virus from mother to infant is believed to be rare.

For more information on COVID-19 and pregnancy, please visit the BCCDC website.

If you have flu symptoms you should be evaluated by your health-care provider. Influenza during pregnancy can cause complications and the virus that causes influenza is still circulating in B.C. 

This information should be passed on to the hospital or facility where you expect to deliver. Please call your health-care provider to obtain guidance.


‎Seek urgent care if you experience one of the following changes in your health:   

  • If it becomes harder to breathe
  • If you can’t drink anything 
  • If you feel very unwell
  • If you show signs of going into labour

Labour & birth

Yes, the recent BC Government changes to COVID-19 guidance for health-care settings include an end to visitor restrictions . Those allowed in the room during a C-section birth depends on the risk level.    

If your partner is sick, they should not come to the hospital. Please identify a back-up support person in case your partner is sick. In order to keep our staff and other patients safe we require your support person to be well.

You and your support person will be on isolation. Care will be based on your symptoms at the time. You can expect continuous electronic fetal monitoring during labour to assess your baby’s wellbeing. After birth, we will keep you and baby together if at all possible. We consider skin to skin contact, delayed cord clamping and breast feeding safe at this time. If you need to go to the operating room, we may take more steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We will encourage you to practice good hand hygiene when caring for your baby. We will also advise you to wear a mask if you breastfeed. Your baby will be tested for COVID-19. Ask your primary care provider for more information.


We continue to encourage hand cleaning. There may be extra precautionary measures visible, for instance, health-care workers are often wearing more personal protective equipment. 


Yes, siblings of a patient may accompany parents or legal guardians. 


Newborn care

Click to enlarge - Breastfeeding + COVID-19Breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact is recommended during the COVID-19 pandemic. Human milk has antibodies and immune factors that protect the health of your baby.  Wash your hands before and after providing care,  holding or feeding your baby, and wear a mask if you are sick. 

If temporary separation from your baby is required,  you are encouraged to express your milk. You may reuse your breast pump kit as long as you wash your breast pump, parts, and feeding equipment carefully each time. 

For more info on expressing milk and cleaning your breast pump visit: Expressing breast milk

BCCDC COVID-19 Guidelines for breastfeeding

COVID-19 vaccine

The Canadian Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology (SOGC), the National Advisory Committee on Immunization and public health experts in B.C. all advise that pregnant and breastfeeding women should be offered the vaccine when eligible, including the booster dose.

If you have questions and you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning to become pregnant, speak to your health-care provider about COVID-19 vaccines.

Register for vaccination here.

More on vaccine safety.

To learn more about COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy or while breastfeeding, see Vaccine Considerations from the BCCDC and COVID-19 Vaccination in Pregnancy from the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada.

More online resources about COVID-19

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) has developed a dedicated web page about COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy and understanding the risks of COVID-19 while pregnant:
SOURCE: Respiratory Virus Information for Patients ( )
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