COVID-19 Update – March 15

Situation Update:

3 more presumptive cases were announced today in Manitoba, bringing the total of confirmed and presumptive cases to 7. All cases so far appear to be travel related.

Schools are still set to close for three weeks beginning Monday, March 23. Patients who suspect they may have COVID-19 should call Health Links first, and then may be directed to new COVID-19 screening centres. These centres have seen nearly 1,000 patients so far with long waits. Health Links has tripled capacity to better meet demand.

You can view today’s provincial bulletin for further updates.

Virtual Care – Phone and Video patient Consultations

Following the lead of other jurisdictions, provincial authorities confirmed important details on providing virtual care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

New guidelines were issued today by provincial authorities that recommend the use of virtual care as part of the “protective self-separation” measures to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

This includes the use of telephone and video consultation for patients, including for care unrelated to coronavirus.

Physicians in Manitoba first suggested virtual care when COVID-19 started spreading in other countries and it appeared imminent that arrival in Manitoba was only a matter of time. Doctors Manitoba has worked diligently with provincial authorities to develop new tariffs for virtual care.

You should review the following documents as you prepare to offer virtual care:

You should also review your upcoming patients to identify opportunities to convert planned in-person visits to virtual care, following the guidance in the links above, and as clinically appropriate.

Virtual care visits can begin today. Doctors Manitoba reminds you to maintain full and comprehensive documentation of all virtual care visits. This is required by CPSM guidelines, and you will need this documentation if you are audited by Manitoba Health.

Please note, we continue to work on getting answers from provincial health officials on other remuneration-related issues, such as practice disruption due to self-isolation requirements or other issues. 

Physicians Needed for Screening Clinics and More

More physicians are needed to help run the COVID-19 screening clinics. Doctors Manitoba has volunteered to assist in collecting names and contact info of physicians willing and able to help at the screening clinics. We also anticipate there will be need for more physician support in ERs, urgent care and inpatient areas.

Doctors Manitoba is working with Shared Health to arrange for appropriate remuneration for this work.

You can easily submit your name to help in screening clinics or other areas that may need more physician support. Doctors Manitoba will share this information with Shared Health and health authorities, who will then be in contact with you as needed.

New Travel Restrictions Doctors Should Review

Given a number of considerations, Doctors Manitoba is now recommending all physicians strongly consider cancelling international travel plans. If you are currently abroad, consider returning to Manitoba at your earliest opportunity.

Today, provincial officials advised “all Manitobans, including health-care providers, are strongly advised to cancel or postpone any non-essential international travel.”

Further, travel restrictions are changing rapidly, meaning you may face difficulty returning to Manitoba and you should expect direction to self-isolate or quarantine for 14 days after your return.

As of today, provincial health officials advise all international travelers to self-isolate and self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days after returning to Canada. This is expanded from previous advice that only required self-isolation after returning from specific COVID-19 hot spots.

You can view the current travel restrictions in today’s provincial coronavirus bulletin.

Ordering Masks and Other Supplies

A reminder that physicians and family medicine clinics can now order masks, sanitizer and other personal protective equipment (PPE) through provincial authorities by calling 204-926-6050 or 1-877-477-4773.

You should expect to leave a message and wait 24-48 hours for response. We strongly suggest calling when your supplies are low, and not waiting until you are out. These supplies are in high demand, so we encourage all clinics to order appropriately and support each other in doing the same.