WINNIPEG - As Critical-level restrictions hit the Winnipeg health region Monday, Doctors in the province are urging Manitobans to work hard to hold back the COVID-19 current, and issuing a warning about the impact of not doing enough. Doctor’s Manitoba says unless Manitobans act decisively now, hospital resources could be overwhelmed within a matter of days. "Physicians from across our province are calling on all Manitobans to act now to save the lives of their families, friends and neighbours,” says Doctors Manitoba President Dr. Cory Baillie. “Please stay home and limit contact with people outside of your household."
The 112-year-old organization represents 3,000 physicians in the province. Spokesperson Keir Johnson says we’re now in the midst of a second wave of COVID-19, and that the increase in community spread could push hospitals and ICUs past their limits. ICU physician Dr. Kendiss Olafson says it’s causing a critical strain on the ability to treat other serious illnesses. "Our goal is to have open ICU beds at each of the three acute hospitals at all times,” Dr. Olafson explains, “But over the last week we have been nearly full, at times with only one or two beds open across the entire city. Maintaining open beds means we are ready for the next incoming trauma, septic patient, or individual struggling to breathe, because minutes matter in life threatening situations.”
"I am urging all Manitobans to do what it takes to stop the spread of COVID-19, because your actions today can help save the life of your grandparent, parent, neighbour or friend," adds Dr. Olafson. "The rate of infection, hospitalization and death we are seeing today will be the tip of the iceberg if nothing changes."
Dr. Olafson says COVID-19 hospitalizations and ICU cases aren’t just happening among the elderly, as half of those are happening with patients under age 65. The doctors are pleading with Manitobans to follow the Doctor’s orders. Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba's Chief Provincial Public Health Officer is advising citizens to go above and beyond code red restrictions that are starting in Winnipeg. The steps include:
-Wear a mask at all times when outside of your home.
-Stay home if you’re sick, even with mild symptoms, and get tested.
-Wash your hands frequently, and two metres away from people outside of your household.
-Designate one individual in your household to run only essential errands, such as grocery shopping.
-Stay home whenever possible to limit contact with those outside of your household. If you can work from home, please do.
With hundreds of cases now being announced daily and a test positivity rate approaching 10%, Manitoba's physicians are concerned about hospital capacity getting overloaded - but Dr. Baillie says, looking back at previous success, there’s still hope. "We know how to stop this, and western Manitoba showed us those steps can work." Dr. Baillie says. "Physicians know that staying home and limiting your contact with family and friends is difficult. We would not be calling on all Manitobans to step up like this if it wasn't absolutely necessary."