Coronavirus: MD Students Communication Archive

January 27, 2020


Md Program Students

The University of Toronto and our hospital partners are working closely together to optimize the management of the Coronavirus concerns across our system. As of the morning of January 27, there has been confirmation of two presumptive cases of 2019-nCoV in Toronto.

While health officials note the risk of contracting the virus remains low, we must all be prepared to safely deal with sick and highly infectious patients. We want to ensure that you are kept safe and your patients are kept safe while you are performing your duties.

The expectation of the MD Program is that all Clerks will remain members of the health care team as appropriate and continue to be engaged in the clinical environment. At the current time, it is the expectation that all MD Program learners will uphold their professional obligation to comply with hospital/clinic requirements for providers.

Mask Fit Testing

Our best defense against the novel virus is to adhere to pre-existing IPAC policies and procedures. That is, you should adhere to routine practices including excellent hand hygiene and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) use as appropriate for any patient that you treat. For patients suspected or confirmed to have of the novel coronavirus, airborne/contact/droplet will be initiated, which means that you will have to wear an N95 respirator mask, gloves, gown, and an eye protection. Thus, your mask-fit must be up-to-date, which means having been fitted in the last two years or sooner if you experienced a significant change to the head and neck, such as losing or gaining weight.

As a Faculty of Medicine learner, you must meet hospital requirements including mask fit testing and appropriate training. If, for whatever reason, you have lapsed in your mask fit testing or believe that there has been a change in your fit status (major weight change, for example), then you must not engage in at-risk activities until a new updated fit test is done or you consult with your Academy Director to determine how the institution manages individual circumstances.

If you cannot be fit-tested, and there is any potential risk that you will be at risk to exposure to an infected patient, then you may, where appropriate, be directed by your supervisors to be relieved of your duties. If that happens, you may be placed on leave until the outbreak, if it occurs, is over or assigned to other educational duties as capacity and risk assessments permit.

To help protect our patients and staff, it is also vital that you do not come to work ill. If you begin to experience a respiratory illness, please contact your medical team as well as Occupational Health so that the institution is aware.

I understand there are varying perspectives on the approaches taken to protect providers and patients, however I can assure you that the processes in place have been well thought out and I ask that all learners respect the local expertise that has informed these. Please contact your hospital site director or Academy Director if you have questions or concerns.

We understand that this is a time of heightened anxiety and concern. We have learned a great deal from previous events and are confident that our processes are optimized to address the current situation.

Information is available at:

Toronto Public Health:
Public Health Ontario:
Public Health Agency of Canada:
World Health Organization:

Please contact myself or Dr Pignatiello or your Academy Director, Program Director (Dr Law or Bernstein) or your Course Director if you have further questions at this time. We are concerned for your safety and available for support

Patricia Houston, MD, MEd, FRCPC
Vice Dean, MD Program, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto