Health-care workers firing back at Manitoba premier for blaming COVID-19 patients

WINNIPEG — Frontline health care workers are firing back at the premier, saying he is unfairly scolding very sick COVID-19 patients in hospital and that it’s his government that should accept responsibility.

“The response I think most of my colleagues have had about this sort of blaming strategy is universally a negative one,” said Dr. Philippe Lagace-Wiens, a St. Boniface hospital microbiologist.

On Tuesday, the province released numbers showing many COVID-19 patients in hospital are unvaccinated and not getting tested before they arrive at the hospital.

Pallister scolded them, suggesting their behaviour is driving up case numbers and putting people at risk.

“There’s an element of personal responsibility that shouldn’t escape us but seems to be escaping some,” the premier said.

Some doctors took to social media accusing Pallister of unfairly blaming patients in ICU.

Lagace-Wiens said for some people there are barriers to testing and vaccines, while others may be getting infected at work.

“It’s limited to say there’s fault to be had,” Lagace-Wiens said,

Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of Manitoba’s Vaccine Task Force Lead, said the best way to deal with vaccine hesitancy is to show empathy.

“We’ll get a lot further than we will if we start to push back at people and make them feel defensive and make them feel attacked,” she said.

The doctors critical of the premier said if there is blame to be handed out it, should be directed at him for not fully locking down weeks ago.

“It could have been a much smaller third wave had we been much more aggressive,” Lagace-Wiens said.

Pallister has said repeatedly that Manitoba has had some of the toughest restrictions in place for some time.

The current public health order expires Saturday. Pallister and Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer, will be providing an update on the public health orders on Thursday.

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