Doctors Manitoba Calls for Cautious Approach
Earlier today, our President Dr. Kristjan Thompson called for a more cautious approach in Manitoba to avoid a fourth wave, including continued mask use, expanded use of immunization cards, and a commitment to reinstate restrictions at the first sign in the province of a fourth wave of COVID-19.
This appeal followed a survey of physicians that found 79% are worried restrictions are being loosened too quickly. Physicians were particularly concerned about the removal of the mask mandate and the decision to eliminate the use of the vaccine passport in some public settings.
Dr. Thompson has shared physicians’ concerns with provincial officials. While the risk of COVID-19 is lower, the province is still very vulnerable. Only 63% of all Manitobans are fully vaccinated, and hospital capacity has not recovered from the third wave. Over three quarters (78%) of physicians are concerned about the surgery backlog, including how a fourth wave could cause further disruptions. Nearly half (48%) of physicians remain concerned about hospital capacity more generally, including ICUs
Doctors Manitoba has called for the following actions to help avoid or quickly contain a fourth wave:
- Everyone should continue to wear masks in public indoor settings, especially when that location is not limited to vaccinated people only.
- Businesses that continue to require masks and take other precautions should be applauded, not criticized, for their commitment to protecting their employees and customers.
- The vaccine passport should be used more widely, in the short term, to create more low-risk opportunities for fully vaccinated Manitobans to gather.
- At the first sign of a potential fourth wave, the mask mandate and other restrictions should be reintroduced without delay, using either a regional or provincial approach as deemed necessary by public health officials.
You can read our full news release here, and a video message from Dr. Thompson here. We also encourage all physicians to review a recent letter from Dr. Brent Roussin published in the Free Press, “Why we’re now easing restrictions,” for important information and context.
Even though public health recommendations are not all reflected in the government’s new pandemic restrictions, physicians can play an important role in reinforcing this advice with patients. We appreciate the expertise and advice from Dr. Roussin and his team. They have a very difficult role navigating legal, political and economic constraints to protect Manitobans through this pandemic. Unfortunately, this has resulted in numerous unacceptable threats. This pandemic has been extraordinarily difficult for all physicians. Surgeons have faced major disruptions to their practice. Emergency, critical care and internal medicine physicians have been stretched thin as hospitals were ill-equipped to handle the surge in cases. Family physicians have had to pivot their practice and fight to get vaccine supply for their patients. Let’s support each other through the rest of this pandemic and beyond with encouragement, respectful dialogue and support.
Reaction to Our Call
Our release today has already received widespread coverage in the news and on social media. In a press conference this afternoon, Premier Brian Pallister announced his resignation but did not address the pandemic, restrictions or our call for a more cautious approach. Doctors Manitoba is monitoring the provincial political environment very closely. Regardless of leadership, we will continue to advocate for the support and tools physicians need to deliver exceptional care to Manitobans.
Reinforcing Precautions in Your Practice
Last week, Doctors Manitoba reminded the public that masks are still required in medical clinics and other health care settings, which are also taking other precautions to keep patients and staff safe. Here are three ways you can ensure your practice is doing its part:
- Please be sure your practice is following the latest advice from Shared Health for primary care and outpatient settings.
- We also have a mask poster you can download and print for your practice.
- Join our webinar on Tuesday August 17 to discuss precautions in clinics, as well as issues like mandating vaccination and accommodating unvaccinated staff. Find out more here and register today.