WINNIPEG — One of the doctors who signed a letter calling for the province to put a shutdown in place is weighing in on the province’s new restrictions aimed at flattening the COVID-19 curve.
Earlier on Friday, a group of 12 Manitoba doctors signed a letter that was sent to Premier Brian Pallister and Health Minister Cameron Friesen, urging them to consider implementing a lockdown to allow the province to reduce and manage the spread of infection, and then gradually lift restrictions while monitoring infections.
“The catastrophic situation we’ve seen in other cities is not inevitable,” the letter reads. “We are confident that aggressive mitigation efforts combined with subsequent ramping up of virus testing, contact tracing, and targeted public messaging can avert disaster if implemented immediately.”
“We urge you to go to a full shutdown immediately. This is the time. A couple of weeks from now will be too late. The result will be an appalling and pointless loss of life and a sustained disastrous impact on the economy.”
Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer, announced on Friday the Winnipeg Metro Region would be going into Code Red.
Under these restrictions, which begin Monday, Nov. 2, restaurants and bars are closed for dining room service, with takeout service being allowed to continue. Gathering sizes in retail spaces are also further reduced.
Other areas of the province are moving to Code Orange, where gatherings are limited to five people, and restaurants can stay open with reduced capacity.
During Friday’s news conference, Roussin was asked why the province did not decide to impose another lockdown, similar to the one in the spring. He said the province has been trying to strike a balance between putting restrictions in place and allowing people to keep some semblance of a normal life.
“There’s a lot of benefits to people to still be able to have connection to their faith-based organizations. We know there’s so much value in having our kids in school, we know that schools have really been fantastic partners and we’re not seeing transmission in school – we’re seeing a lot of cases where they’re community-acquired,” he said. “So it’s all about trying to find that balance – trying to still support people and things that are very important to them, while at the same time sending that very clear message that we are at a turning point right now – that if we don’t make a dramatic change, we’re going to see our healthcare system significantly strained.”
Dr. Anand Kumar, one of the signatories of the letter, said in an email Friday afternoon that he’s hopeful the restrictions will work, but is also worried they might not go far enough.
“They might work, more likely they’ll just slow things down and we’ll still have to lockdown four to six weeks from now instead of two to three weeks from now,” he wrote, adding he is hoping Friday’s numbers are a one-off.
“If they aren’t, we’ll be locking down sooner.”
-with files from CTV’s Josh Crabb
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