Manitoba Public Health Rules, Ottawa ‘Completely Insufficient’ Resources to Mitigate Spread of Omicron: Doctors

Manitoba doctors working on the front lines of the pandemic are calling on the provincial and federal governments to respond to the current crisis in intensive care units in the Prairie province.

On Saturday, Ottawa announced it would send up to eight critical care nurses to Manitoba in response to a province request last weekend for between 15 and 30 nurses.

It came a day after the province announced capacity restrictions for public and private gatherings before the holidays.

Two doctors from the Health Sciences Center say none of these measures come close to helping healthcare workers cope with the expected onslaught of COVID-19 patients, especially because departments of emergency and intensive care units have been completely overwhelmed for months.

Critical care physician Dr. Daniel Roberts says Ottawa’s help is “a drop in the ocean”.

He says eight intensive care nurses will essentially fill two full-time beds, but he believes the province is more likely to need 35 or more intensive care beds as COVID-19 cases increase.

“It’s really not going to make a big difference… We’re really going to be in big trouble.”

Roberts is calling for more help to be sought, including the military, and for health care supports to be sought out of the province.

“Any steps that can be taken to offload patients to create a scenario where we can actually deliver to people who need an intensive care bed in the next few weeks are warranted,” he said.

No more restrictions needed

The doctor fears the federal government will step in unless Manitoba speeds up its public health orders, which he says are “completely insufficient to prevent what we’re going to see over the next six to eight weeks.”

Internist Dr Jillian Horton echoes these concerns.

“Part of me has to be wondering if the federal government is saying, you know, you have to do more before we’re going to direct resources to you, because otherwise it’s really not fair to the other provinces that are doing bigger. sacrifices, ”she said.

Public health experts are calling on people to reduce the number of contacts in light of the highly contagious Omicron variant. Dr Jillian Horton says big events like hockey games could see widespread transmission. (Trevor Hagan / Canadian Press)

Annie Cullinan, press secretary to Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair, told CBC News via email on Saturday that the deployment of nurses would begin on December 20 and continue through January 17, with the possibility of an extension. .

She directed any specific questions about the deployment to the Red Cross, which said on Saturday it was still working on the details.

Doctors said the most important thing Manitobans can do with the Omicron variant, which is said to be much more transmissible than the Delta variant, is reduce contact.

They want to see the province take this seriously and impose measures to limit interactions where the virus is likely to spread.

“Allowing five unvaccinated people in your home for Christmas dinner to cough on your turkey isn’t exactly an effective restriction,” said Roberts.

In addition to tighter rules on indoor gatherings, the two medics say tighter capacity limits at retail stores should be imposed.

Manitoba’s chief public health officer Dr Brent Roussin said on Friday the rules were an attempt to strike a balance between trying to reduce transmission without completely locking down before the holidays.

“Do we think that if we tell people that they are not able to meet with anyone, that is a realistic expectation,” he said.

Horton says she sympathizes with the best doctor, but big steps must be taken.

“It’s really hard to bring out the nuance of the message that really, right now, the most important thing we can do is limit our contact in all possible contexts,” she said.

“Reduce the capacity of people in an NHL game to 50%? Let’s take a step back and get realistic. Is this really the best we can do to reduce our contact? It’s always going to be an absolute vulnerability for massive spread once we see Omicron dominance in the community. “

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