Updated April 6: Revised guidance document
Ontario announced a shutdown of non-essential services yesterday. Wisely, veterinary medicine was classified as essential. However, it’s not business as usual. Rather, it’s “best as we can” given other restrictions and social distancing that are absolutely necessary to curb the spread of COVID-19. There’s no clear way to define essential vs elective in many cases, and there are no recipe book approaches to living in this unprecedented era of social distancing.
But, we do our best, including using our best judgement and often educated guesses to make certain decisions, since we can’t wait for definitive evidence or a published research study on everything to act.
To help veterinarians in these uncertain times, the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association has released a guidance document about elective vs essential procedures, patient handling and social distancing. It’s a bit Ontario-centric (since we’ve had input from our provincial regulator and recommend an Ontario human screening algorithm) but overall should apply well in most places – though veterinarians must always be aware of their own local regulatory guidance.
My standard disclaimer applies: things may change, so users of these documents should keep a lookout for revised versions. I’m working on some additional information to complement / expand this document in the near future.