OHS Canada Magazine

Stick with fundamentals, even as case counts drop: Manitoba doctor


By Michele LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

BRANDON SUN

The scant 53 new cases of COVID-19 announced Monday may be cause to celebrate, as it’s the lowest new case count the province has announced in months, but Dr. Brent Roussin cautioned that all the fundamentals still apply.

“We can’t undo all of this hard work by simply opening everything up again. You have to remember that we’ve been here before. If we open things up the same as we were in October, we will see November and December numbers,” said Roussin.

He also said the province would announce what new public health orders will look like, which replace those that expire 11:59 p.m. on Friday.

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“We can see that the restrictions that we have in place are quite tough ? but they are working. The numbers show us that they are effective, they are working, and they put Manitobans back in a position to continue our slow, cautious reopening,” Roussin said, adding that nothing has changed since those fateful fall months.

“We’ve been able to vaccinate some of the highest-risk Manitobans, but certainly not to a level where we can have any population-level benefit. We continue to roll out those vaccines, and that’s the hope that we’ve all been looking for.”

He said pandemics come to an end, and this one will be no different.

“But, right now, we need to stay focused to keep these numbers down, to keep the strain of our healthcare system down as we get back to health care for all Manitobans,” said Roussin.

Roussin would not answer questions about what the new public health orders might look like, but he did say, we’re taking our time.

“We’re doing things very intentionally to ensure we don’t, again, see widespread community-based transmission,” he said.

“We want to remind Manitobans and businesses that we know it’s been very difficult. But, again, we can’t be looking for loopholes to try to get things open that aren’t intended to be open. Remember, if we go back to where we were in October, we will see our November numbers again, and we just won’t have any alternative but to put the restrictions back on.”

Roussin also urged Manitobans to stop with the stigmatization.

“We’ve talked about stigma in the past and it’s always relevant when we’re dealing with outbreaks,” he said.

He then recounted there are reports of critical care workers and essential workers as well as their children who are being denied services.

“So, again, when we stigmatize groups, we risk driving those groups away from things like testing and the public health measures. So, we can’t stigmatize groups,” said Roussin.

“There are reasons that we have critical workers and essential workers. We have protocols in place for sectors on how to function. None of those protocols include stigmatizing people.”

Roussin added he knows it is a difficult time and people are worried about their safety and the safety of people around them.

But the fundamentals do not include stigmatizing groups.

“So, please, be kind. Let’s all get through this together.”

Roussin also reminded Manitobans that as the province reopens it becomes more important to mind the mild symptoms and get tested, and to stay home until the test results come back. Keep prolonged indoor contact to a minimum, as that is how the virus spreads.