COVID-19 Update March 26

Situation Update

One new COVID-19 case was reported earlier, bringing Manitoba’s total to 36. Across Canada there are now over 3,800 cases with nearly half in Quebec.

Cadham Lab has substantially increased its testing capacity, performing 734 tests yesterday, doubling the previous day’s total of 352.

Because of this increased capacity, public health officials have expanded testing criteria to include more groups at risk with respiratory symptoms, including health care workers and individuals who live or work in remote communities like First Nations, or in a group setting such as a correctional facility or residential facility. Existing testing criteria still applies, including those with symptoms who are travelers who returned to Manitoba, close contacts of a confirmed case or lab workers conducting COVID-19 testing.

This means physicians with cold/flu symptoms but no travel history or known case contact are now screened for testing. The provincial advice is for health care workers with symptoms to immediately remove themselves from work, self-isolate and contact Occupational Health Services for guidance.

New drive-thru testing sites will open tomorrow in Portage La Prairie and Eriksdale, with more on the way, in addition to the 12 testing sites already opened across the province.

You can view the provincial bulletin for more information. Shared Health published the new testing criteria for your reference.

New Virtual Care Resources

We’ve created a new virtual care site to support you as you introduce virtual visits into your practice. This incorporates questions and early feedback from many of you, as well as resources from other jurisdictions to help you get started.

You’ll find a new Quick Start guide, tips on how to schedule and conduct a visit, advice on technology, and patient consent language. You’ll also learn about professional obligations, including advice from CPSM and CMPA

Check out the new virtual care resources today. If you need more information, or if you have tips of your own to share, please email us and we will update our Virtual Care resources.

Virtual care is an effective way to continue providing routine care to your patients during the pandemic, while also reducing the risks to your patients, your colleagues and yourself. By mixing virtual visits between in-person visits, you will decrease traffic into your office and it will be easier to apply social distancing guidelines in your waiting room.

Personal Protective Equipment

We’ve heard from a lot of physicians with questions about personal protective equipment (PPE). We are in touch with Shared Health daily to help maintain an adequate supply for you. In order to maintain supplies, it helps to ensure you are using the right PPE at the right times.  Here are some quick answers to help:

Which equipment is recommended when?

Surgical or procedure masks are fine for most encounters with symptomatic patients or those who screen positive. N95 masks are only recommended for aerosol generating procedures. There is a Shared Health poster available on masks for you and your colleagues.

If you work in a setting where N95 masks are recommended, you need to get fit tested. Your employer should provide information on this.

You can view videos on donning and doffing PPE to help ensure you handle these supplies safely.

What do you offer patients and when?

All patients should clean their hands. Patients who screen positive should wear a mask. Avoid mask theft or hoarding by screening patients on entry and offering a mask only to those who need one. Review provincial guidance for more information.

How do I order masks and supplies?

You can order masks, sanitizer and other supplies through Shared Health logistics. Their process is evolving and they are being cautious with the volume of supplies they are sending to ensure they will last. We understand they categorize clinics into small, medium and large operations and use this to determine the size of supply orders. Ensure you are clear on how many physicians work in your practice. Order when supplies are getting low; do not wait until they run out. Anticipate a 24-48 hour response.

To order, call 204-926-6050 or 1-877-477-4773. Press 2 when prompted and if you are asked to leave a message, include your clinic name, contact information, the number of physicians in the practice and hours of operation. Currently, they provide masks, gloves and hand sanitizer.

FYI: University of Manitoba COVID-19 Updates

The U of M has started its own COVID-19 report to help connect health professionals with the latest evidence on COVID-19. The first edition came out a few days ago and includes some basic information about incubation, infectious potential of asymptomatic patients, and emerging information about diagnostic and therapeutics.