COVID-19 March 12, 2020

COVID-19 March 12 Update

Doctors Manitoba is helping our members stay connected to the current advice and guidance with new COVID-19 Update emails. We expect the situation to evolve and change rapidly.

Situation Update (March 12, 2020):

  • Manitoba today announced the first presumptive case of COVID-19, along with a number of measures focused on testing and containment (see below).
  • Yesterday, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic as it has met the threshold for this highest category of public health emergency.

Doctors Manitoba Ready to Help

  • Doctors Manitoba has activated an incident command structure. This will allow us to mobilize our resources and better connect with health system partners to escalate your concerns and work towards more effective and timely resolution.
  • We have established a COVID-19 resource page to help you connect with the most current advice and info. We have set up a dedicated email address for your questions and concerns: covid19@doctorsmanitoba.ca
  • Some of our regular work may be temporarily paused as we prioritize time-sensitive issues related to COVID-19, such as access to supplies, ICU capacity, billing for virtual care and income replacement in the event of quarantine or business disruption. Further, we are following provincial medical advice to limit travel and use virtual meeting formats where possible. Rest assured we are tracking all matters and we will follow up at our earliest convenience.

Ordering Supplies

  • A number of clinics have contacted our office for directions on how to order masks, sanitizer and other personal protective supplies (PPE) through the provincial stockpile. 
  • At our request, provincial health officials have established an ordering line for supplies: 204-926-6050 or 1-877-477-4773. If you encounter further issues with accessing supplies through provincial authorities, please let us know and we will continue to escalate your concerns.

Screening and Testing Update

(from March 12 provincial news bulletin)

  • As of today, two screening clinics will be opened at ACCESS Winnipeg West (beside Grace Hospital) and ACCESS Fort Garry (135 Plaza Drive).  Screening will be between 9am and 7pm on weekdays and 9am to 4pm on weekends. Rural and after hours screening will continue at urgent care sites or emergency departments.
  • Patients should first call Health Links (204-788-8200 or 1-888-315-9257) for clinical advice.
  • Clinics can screen patients over the phone before booking appointment and direct patients to call Health Links or go to designated screening locations as appropriate. If clinics screen a patient over the phone and direct them for testing, they should call ahead to the screening clinic, urgent care or ER to provide patient information for a safe hand-off.
  • Provincial testing protocols have been updated so that all respiratory specimens will be tested for COVID-19

Sick Notes

  • The Chief Provincial Public Health Officer advised on March 12 that employers should encourage employees to stay home when ill “without facing barriers such as the requirement for sick notes” (March 12 news release)
  • Doctors Manitoba has produced a sample letter for patients to provide to employers regarding sick notes, which clinics can adapt to meet their needs

Should you travel?

  • With spring break weeks away, many members have asked about their travel plans.
  • Doctors Manitoba is encouraging physicians to carefully re-evaluate their travel plans given the following considerations:
    • Provincial medical advice on travel (see below)
    • Potential for disruption in your travel plans and delays in returning
    • Insurance coverage and limitations, which you can explore by contacting our office at covid19@doctorsmanitoba.ca.
    • Potential for medical advice or other guidelines to change while you are away given the rapidly evolving situation.
  • Today’s travel advice from the Chief Provincial Public Health Officer includes:
    • Avoiding travel if you are high risk.
    • Self-isolation is requested when returning from affected areas (currently Italy, Iran and the Hubei province in China).
    • Self-monitoring for symptoms is suggested when returning from all other international destinations. If cold or flu-like symptoms develop, contact Health Links for screening and possible instructions on seeking further assessment and testing.
    • Suspending non-essential work-related travel outside of Manitoba.
    • Monitor current travel advisories from the federal government.

Containment Measures

The Chief Provincial Public Health Officer has offered the following advice to the public:

  • Social distancing strategies, including minimizing prolonged close contact, avoiding handshakes and considering avoiding travel and crowded places
  • Employers should encourage employees to stay home when ill without requiring sick notes, and take steps for employees to work from home if needed and have access to virtual meetings
  • Review travel plans and avoid unnecessary work-related travel outside of Manitoba
  • Travelers returning from Italy, Iran and the Chinese province of Hubei are asked to self-isolate for 14 days while other international travelers should self-monitor for cold and flu-like symptoms for 14-days and contact Health Links to determine if testing should be considered