A group of Edmonton nurses has refused to swab patients for COVID-19 due to a dispute over personal protective equipment.

Alberta Health Services said it conducted an investigation and determined the work was safe and the regular surgical masks provided to the nurses for the swabs was appropriate.

“They (the nurses) did not require an N95 respirator,” an AHS statement read.

The province’s health authority said it is confident its guidelines and equipment protect frontline workers from exposure to the novel coronavirus.

“These guidelines are in alignment with both the Public Health Agency of Canada the World Health Organization, and with other provinces and territories in Canada,” AHS said in its statement.

“The personal protective equipment guidelines in place in Alberta are the known best practice to protect against illnesses transmitted by droplet. This means wearing a procedure mask, not an N95 respirator.”

AHS added frontline workers who follow proper procedure will be protected, and it must ensure equipment is being used appropriately to ensure it has an adequate supply of N95 respirators.

Johnson said in order for the nurses to resume work, they want the employer to respect their request for N95 masks or they will wait for the result of an investigation by Alberta Occupational Health and Safety.

On Saturday, the province announced an additional 31 cases of COVID-19, bringing the total positive cases in Alberta to 226.

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