An organization representing over 3,000 physicians in Manitoba say that if Manitobans do not step up, hospital resources could be overwhelmed within days.

Dr. Cory Baillie, the president of Doctors Manitoba, wants Manitobans to use their community-minded spirit to reduce the number of COVID-19 cases.

“We know Manitobans step up when others are in need, with unparalleled generosity donating blood during shortages and lifting sandbags during floods,” he says in a statement.

The organization says hospitals and ICUs are now being pushed past their limits due to the number of COVID-19 cases needing medical attention.

“Our goal is to have open ICU beds at each of the three acute hospitals at all times, but over the last week we have been nearly full, at times with only one or two beds open across the entire city,” ICU physician Dr. Kendiss Olafson says. Olafson is also on the University of Manitoba's Critical Care Outcomes Improvement Steering Committee.

Last week, St. Boniface Hospital shared they reached maximum capacity in a unit that treated COVID-19 patients. On Friday, Winnipeg had filled 68 of its 71 critical care beds.

The doctors say half of the patients with COVID-19 in the hospital are under the age of 65, noting the virus is serious for all ages. 

"This is another emergency situation and physicians from across our province are calling on all Manitobans to act now to save the lives of their families, friends and neighbours. Please stay home and limit contact with people outside of your household," Baillie says.

Doctors Manitoba is asking people to follow Dr. Brent Roussin's advice:

  • Staying home whenever possible to limit contact with those outside of your household. If you can work from home, please do.
  • Designate one individual in your household to run only essential errands, such as grocery shopping.
  • Wear a mask at all times when outside of your home.
  • Wash your hands frequently and stay six feet away from people outside of your household.
  • Stay home if you are sick, even with mild symptoms, and get tested.

"Physicians know that staying home and limiting your contact with family and friends is difficult, especially during a time when we are worried about each other’s well-being. We know that limiting business activity and faith-based gatherings is a major sacrifice. We would not be calling on all Manitobans to step up like this if it wasn’t absolutely necessary," Baillie says.

Manitoba’s physicians say they are very worried hospital capacity will be overwhelmed within days after watching hospital trends. 

"The patients admitted to hospital and ICU today were likely infected with coronavirus a couple of weeks ago, when Manitoba’s new case counts had just started to rise over 100 per day and our test positivity rate was still under five per cent," Doctors Manitoba says in a statement.

They say with the hundreds of cases being announced daily and test positivity rate in Winnipeg reaching close to 10 per cent, they say the hospital could fill within days.

"The rate of infection, hospitalization and death we are seeing today will be the tip of the iceberg if nothing changes,” Olafson says. "I am urging all Manitobans to do what it takes to stop the spread of COVID-19 because your actions today can help save the life of your grandparent, parent, neighbour or friend.”