Doctors fear hospitals to be overwhelmed by virus patients


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Hospitals are at risk of being overwhelmed as a triple threat of respiratory viruses spreads across the province, Manitoba doctors warn.

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Hospitals are at risk of being overwhelmed as a triple threat of respiratory viruses spreads across the province, Manitoba doctors warn.

“Physicians are very concerned about the (respiratory syncytial virus, COVID-19 and influenza) threat to Manitobans’ health and well-being,” Dr. Candace Bradshaw, president of Doctors Manitoba, said Wednesday in a news release.

This level of worry is highlighted in a recent survey of the physicians advocacy group’s membership, which showed 93 per cent were concerned about Manitobans’ health and well-being amid increasing virus spread and 96 per cent were concerned about hospitals being overwhelmed this fall or winter.

Any of the trio of respiratory viruses can be serious for some people, resulting in hospitalization, intensive care or death, Doctors Manitoba said.

It is “strongly recommending” Manitobans take actions to protect themselves and those around them, by slowing the spread of respiratory viruses.

The list of precautions has become familiar in recent years: get a flu shot and COVID vaccine booster; wear a mask in crowded or poorly ventilated public places; wash/sanitize hands frequently; and stay at home when sick.

More than 95 per cent of doctors have received or plan to receive their fall COVID booster and flu shot, according to the recent survey.

“This demonstrates the confidence physicians have in the influenza and COVID vaccines and why we recommend them to our patients,” Bradshaw said.

Manitoba Health Minister Audrey Gordon responded to the doctors’ concerns Wednesday, saying the provincial government continues to take its advice from public health officials and hospital leaders are monitoring the situation closely and making changes as needed.

“I encourage individuals, parents and families to practise the fundamentals. If you’re not well, if your child’s not well, keep them home, wash their hands, wash your hands, social distance and just take care of yourself,” Gordon said after question period.

The health minister said the federal government is also assisting with the shortage of children’s cold and flu medications by procuring stock that will be distributed across the provinces.

“I encourage parents and families to pick up any supplies that they need and just keep their children safe during this season of respiratory viruses,” Gordon said.

Doctors Manitoba further recommends planning ahead for the “unpredictable respiratory virus season.” Including ensuring your household has: rapid antigen tests for COVID-19 on hand; good quality masks available; and plans in place for household members to stay home when ill.

“Take the time now to get ready and discuss your plans, so you aren’t left scrambling when someone has virus symptoms in the days and weeks ahead,” said Dr. Michael Boroditsky, president-elect of Doctors Manitoba.

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