The Manitoba Liberals are urging the provincial government to bring back some COVID-19 health precautions in order to keep people safe.
Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont and MLAs Dr. Jon Gerrard and Cindy Lamoureux penned a letter to provincial officials, including Premier Heather Stefanson and Health Minister Audrey Gordon, asking for timely information.
According to this letter, MLAs are getting calls and emails about how difficult it is for those with COVID-19 to get PCR tests.
“We have received complaints from citizens across Manitoba, including people in rural areas who cannot access PCR tests,” the letter states.
“A person in Gimli had to drive to Selkirk, a person in Melita could not access tests in Brandon. PCR tests are critical to measuring test positivity as well as for individuals who need to prove they were infected with Covid who experience long-term symptoms.”
The Liberals are asking the province to bring back daily COVID-19 dashboard updates, daily reporting of wastewater testing for viral load, and improve access to PCR tests with results reported to public health.
They also want the province to consider launching a campaign to encourage booster vaccines and mask use, and to make masks freely available.
“We are very concerned that unless you change direction, there is a real and dangerous risk that we will see yet another surge in cases that will once again be overwhelming Manitoba’s health system, resulting in unnecessary deaths, preventable disability through long covid, and more delayed surgeries,” the letter says.
THE PROVINCE RESPONDS
In a statement, a spokesperson for Manitoba Health says key COVID-19 indicators are improving, and the province is moving forward with health system recovery. The spokesperson notes the province will make any required adjustments based on guidance from public health officials.
“This is an important time of transition, and we still need to get vaccinated, and do simple, but important things like washing our hands and staying home when we are sick,” the statement says.
The spokesperson added that COVID-19 information will be updated weekly in epidemiology reports, which can be found online. Though the online COVID-19 dashboards are no longer available, the vaccine dashboards will continue to be updated until March 31.
“This process has been used for some time as part of public health reporting for a variety of illnesses,” the statement says.
“Additional reporting for any illness beyond this process, as seen through the COVID-19 pandemic, may be required and will be instituted depending on the severity of the situation.”
As for wastewater data, the spokesperson says the National Microbiology Lab owns, collects and posts this information. The most recent report can be found online.
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