COVID-19 Update March 24

Situation Update

Manitoba Health reported one new probable case today, bringing the total to 21 confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases in the province. Investigations continue to determine if the new case is related to travel. Canada has now surpassed 2,000 confirmed and probable cases and 25 deaths, with more than 300,000 cases confirmed world-wide.

Over 4,500 tests have been completed for COVID-19 so far in Manitoba. The province advised, however, that Cadham Lab is being forced to prioritize due to a worldwide shortage of testing reagents. Tests for those most at risk will be done first, including those in hospital or PCH, First Nations, as well as health care workers. They are working on a solution and hope to increase testing later this week.

Shared Health reported that the average wait yesterday at Health Links was down to 29 minutes. They credit this improvement to the introduction of the online screening tool and new automated phone screening at 1-877-308-9038, as well as beefing up staffing at Health Links to take more calls. They are also adding new technology tomorrow that should eliminate any busy signals when calling Health Links.

A new community testing site will open tomorrow in Winkler. This will be the 12th testing site and 4th drive-thru format. Full screening protocol and test site locations are available to physicians for more information. Physicians should note that screening criteria has been modified to include symptomatic patients with out-of-province travel, including domestic, or contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case.

View today’s provincial bulletin for more information.

Diagnostic Tests Deferred

Last evening, Shared Health announced that effective immediately only essential diagnostic testing should be ordered for inpatients and outpatients. This includes lab, imaging and cardiac testing.

Essential testing can still be ordered. Tests are considered essential if they will guide immediate care management decisions. Non-essential and routine testing should be deferred. Your clinical judgment should be used to determine whether or not testing is essential.

Physicians may start receiving notices for non-essential tests already scheduled advising that they are being deferred. Physicians should view the memo on diagnostics for more information. This builds on action taken a few days ago to suspend non-urgent elective surgeries.

Screening and Cleaning: Tips for Your Practice

We have heard from many of you with questions about current patient screening advice and what precautions to take in your office. In addition to implementing the guidelines in our tips for clinics to stay open, including diverting suspected COVID-19 cases away from your clinic, consider the following advice:

If your clinic follows the infection prevention and control precautions and appropriate screening guidelines, there are no additional actions required if a patient who visited your office later tests positive for COVID-19. By taking these steps, you are protecting other visitors to your clinic along with your staff and colleagues.

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