Guidance Concerning COVID-19 (an article from one of our physicians)

“Everything we do before a pandemic will seem alarmist. Everything we do after a pandemic will seem inadequate. This is the dilemma we face, but it should not stop us from doing what we can to prepare. We need to reach out to everyone with words that inform, but not inflame. We need to encourage everyone to prepare, but not panic.” — Michael O. Leavitt, 2007

My name is Kirstyn Humniski. I am a family physician who works in your community. Some of you may have met me in the clinic, urgent care or the emergency room. I have had many questions about this new coronavirus by patients. Some people feel this whole thing is being blown out of proportion and it is not as bad as the media makes it out to be. I am here to tell you that doctors are worried. This virus has the potential to disrupt our economy, our health and our lives. Similar to other places in the world, Southern Manitoba will see serious cases and deaths. I do not tell you this to incite worry, but to try to inspire action. In times like these we may feel powerless, but I am telling you that there are steps you can do to help lessen the impact of the virus on our community. I urge everyone to take steps to slow the spread of this virus. This is known as flattening the curve. A certain percentage of people infected will require advanced care to survive. A surge of ill people can overwhelm the system and lead to deaths that may have been prevented. #flatteningthecurve

  • Minimize travel. March break will soon be here and many people travel during it. Some people will undoubtedly bring back the virus. This is now a pandemic. There are no safe countries anymore. British Columbia and Alberta have already made a statement against any non essential travel outside Canada. Please reconsider your travel plans.
    This includes the United States. There have been reported cases in 46 states.
  • If you have travelled, then please follow Public Health recommendations. As of this writing, this means you need to self isolate for 14 days if you’ve returned from Italy, Iran or the province of Hubei in China. If you have traveled anywhere outside of Canada then you need to self monitor for symptoms for 14 days. If any cold or flu-like symptoms develop, you need to contact Health Links-Info Sante. Most people only have mild symptoms but are still infectious. Health Links-Info Sante will guide you on where to go for testing if it is required.
    If you become ill and have been around someone who was ill and travelled then call Health Links. Please be patient, as you may have to be on hold for a long period of time.
  • Social distancing. Avoid large gatherings, concerts or sporting events. Consider working from home if you are able. Avoid personal greetings that involve touch like handshakes. Minimize prolonged (more than 10 minutes), close (less than 2 meters/6 feet) contact with individuals in public. This is where we need you to be creative. How do you make your workplace safer? How do we make church safer?
  • Hygiene. Wash your hands. Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face. Wash your hands. You do not need gallons of hand sanitizer. Soap, water and a good scrub do the job. Disinfect frequently used surfaces. Disinfect your phone. Cough and sneeze into a tissue (then wash your hands) or your elbow.
  • If you are sick, stay home. If your child is sick, keep them home. Employers – Do not send people to the clinic for sick notes.
  • Do not panic. Be prepared instead. Do not stockpile toilet paper and masks. Have supplies in case you and your family are placed in self isolation – some extra food, prescription medication, diapers and pet supplies. Have alternate arrangements for childcare in case of school or daycare closure.
  • Think critically. At the time of this writing there is no vaccine and no approved treatment. There are no vitamins or supplements that will keep you well. There will be unscrupulous people who will try to profit off the fear with products and lies. Ignore them.
  • Know where to look for information. Expect information and recommendations to change rapidly.
    The Government of Manitoba website has updated case numbers for the province, information and helpful links.
    The government of Canada website has more detail on how you can prepare.
  • We are a community. I know some of these suggestions are inconvenient and costly. We do this not only for ourselves but to protect our loved ones. We do this for our grandparents, our parents and those whose immune system are not strong enough to protect themselves.

Now is the time to act. It is not too soon. If we wait then it will be too late.