COVID-19 Update March 20

March 20:

Situation Update

Manitoba joined many other provinces today as Premier Pallister declared a provincial state of emergency. This is being used to help enforce public health recommendations about social distancing, including prohibiting gatherings larger than 50 people, requiring businesses to separate patrons by 6 feet and requiring bars and restaurants to limit patron size to 50 people or 50%, whatever is less.

As of noon today, no additional COVID-19 cases were identified, with the count remaining at 17 cases. Over 3,300 tests have been performed. Hospitals will begin suspending elective (non-urgent) surgical procedures starting Monday, March 23 to free up beds for potential increased need for hospitalization.

Pharmacists have been directed to limit prescriptions to 30-day supplies to avoid stockpiling of medications.

The Canadian border is now closed to travel.

Review the declaration of emergency announcement and provincial COVID-19 bulletin for more information. .

Staying Well: Physician Wellness More Important Than Ever

Dr. Fourie Smith, President of Doctors Manitoba, strongly encourages all members to plan for their well-being.

“As physicians, we are on the front line of this pandemic, and it can feel like a vulnerable place to be. From all we have heard about COVID-19, we need to prepare for a marathon, not a sprint.

Just like elite athletes, we have to think about both our physical and mental health. We also have to think ahead and prepare ourselves for difficult ethical questions that could come in the future.

Doctors Manitoba has prepared a guide to help you take care of yourself, your family and your colleagues through these uncharted waters. Take some time this weekend to review it, to help prepare you for the weeks ahead.”

Updated Screening Protocols

Doctors Manitoba has clarified with provincial officials how physicians can refer patients for screening. The updated protocol is online. Physicians can continue to refer patients who meet screening criteria to the COVID-19 screening clinics. No call-ahead is required. Please direct your patient to indicate that they were referred by you today when they arrive.
Asymptomatic patients, regardless of exposure and travel, are not being tested for COVID-19 at this time. Do not refer them. Clinics are not taking walk-ins, only referrals from Health Links or physicians.

Review the criteria for screening, and ensure you stay up to date as the criteria is expected to continue to change.

Virtual Care and Patient Consent

A reminder to physicians that when offering virtual care, you should ensure it is clinically appropriate and comfortable for the patient. For patient consent, our understanding is that consent for video calls should be obtained and documented.

It is likely most practical for your reception staff to obtain consent for a video call at the time of booking the appointment. Alternatively you can confirm consent at the time of the call. It is still your responsibility to ensure consent was given and to document this in the patient’s record.

Below you will find a sample video visit consent script:

Thank you for booking a video visit with Dr. _______.  Appointments by video communication are now authorized by Manitoba Health and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba. Because this is our first video visit, we want to ensure you understand how this will work and agree.

  • We recommend that your computer or phone is private and cannot be accessed by others.
  • As much as possible, I (or Dr. ____________) will conduct the appointment as if you are present in the office/clinic.
  • There may be some advice I (or Dr. ______________) cannot give through virtual care alone and you may need to attend at the office/clinic in person.
  • While I (or Dr. __________) have made efforts to ensure the video visit will be secure, like any internet communication there is a risk that third parties may be able to access it. 
  • Do you consent to proceeding with the appointment with a full understanding of this risk? I (or Dr. ___________) will note your consent on your record.”

Child Care Help

After today, schools and child care centres have been ordered to close for at least three weeks. The province has made arrangements to continue offering child care to health care professionals, including physicians, along with other essential service workers.

You can complete the provincial form to request child care. The government announced a plan today to keep some centres open with limited capacity as well as grants for displaced early childhood educators to set up a home-based day care with capacity that adheres with public health direction.

Please see our earlier COVID-19 updates for additional information and see our COVID-19 resources page for links to helpful resources from Shared Health, Manitoba Health and others.

If you have any concerns or issues, please contact us at