Physicians are concerned public health restrictions have been loosened too quickly. Doctors Manitoba is calling for 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.

Manitobans have earned the opportunity to reconnect with family and friends and enjoy the best our province has to offer,” said Dr. Kristjan Thompson, President of Doctors Manitoba. But while we get out there, please be cautious. Wear a mask in public indoor spaces, stay home if you are sick, wash your hands, and get vaccinated. We don’t want Manitoba to experience the fourth wave like we’re seeing in other jurisdictions, with a more contagious Delta variant leading to serious illness and in some cases record hospitalizations among children and youth.”

In a survey conducted over the last week, 79% of physicians are concerned too many pandemic restrictions are being loosened too quickly. The top concerns include the removal of the mask mandate and the decision to eliminate the use of the vaccine passport in some public settings. 

Doctors Manitoba is calling for the following actions to help avoid or 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. 

While the risk of COVID-19 has decreased, it is not zero and a fourth wave could hit Manitoba very soon,” said Dr. Thompson. How soon the fourth wave arrives and how big it is will be determined by the decisions made by individuals, businesses, and the government in the weeks ahead. Manitobans should follow the public health medical advice from Dr. Brent Roussin and his team, even if some of their recommendations are no longer reflected in the government’s pandemic restrictions.” 

Over three quarters (78%) of physicians are concerned about the surgery backlog, and nearly half (48%) of physicians are still concerned about hospital capacity more generally, including ICUs. An increase in cases will again stretch hospital resources, risking more surgery cancellations and overwhelming our ICUs.

More restrictions will be needed at the first sign of increasing cases, not only to protect the health of Manitobans but also to protect our hospital capacity which is still very fragile and is very close to being overwhelmed,” Dr. Thompson explained. 

Manitobans who are not yet fully vaccinated can use the Vaccine Finder at Man​i​to​baVac​cine​.ca to find a physician to discuss their concerns or to get their shot. 

The survey of physicians was conducted online by Doctors Manitoba between August 3 and August 9, 2021, following the announcement of changes to public health restrictions. There were 410 responses. 43% of participants work primarily in a hospital while 53% work primarily in a community clinic or doctor’s office.

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