A Winnipeg doctor working with severe COVID-19 patients is displeased to see Manitoba's restrictions ease without having any Delta variant projections.

Dr. Tim Hiebert works mostly in internal medicine and palliative care. As he works with severe cases of COVID-19, he recalls what previous waves have done in Manitoba, and waits for what could be next.

"The first wave didn't really happen because Manitoba essentially locked down before we had any significant insurgent of the COVID virus. The second wave tragically was a wave that affected our elderly. Our third wave affected Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour in a disproportionate way. And our fourth wave is going to affect people who are unvaccinated."

tim heibertOn top of Hiebert's medical degree, he has significant basic science research experience and advanced chemestry and biochemestry degrees. (Supplied)


Knowing how communicable the Delta variant is and the current high demand for usual illness treatments, the doctor worries about medical care, COVID-19 patient or not, in a fourth wave.

"Just this morning there was a report of very long wait times in the emergency room at St. Boniface and that is certainly something that we are seeing."

Listen to the full conversation here


He says half a million Manitobans are not or can not get the vaccine, putting the province at risk for a massive outbreak after Public Health eased restrictions before having Delta variant projections.

"It's like driving with a blindfold and hoping for the best," Hebert says "It's guessing and that's a really big concern."

Hiebert says he needs to care for others around him and having the projections will give people an idea as to what needs to be done to keep others safe. Hiebert says just as, if not more important than being a doctor, he is a Christian.

"What I do as a doctor and my decisions about what I do in my community have to follow from my Christian faith," Hiebert says. "We are God's hands. We are Christ's servants here on earth. We need to make decisions that protect others."

Dr. Jazz Atwal, Manitoba's Deputy Chief Public Health Officer, says Delta variant projections are in the works, but he has been saying this for many weeks. He says the delay is due to a staffing issue early on, and that the models take time to create and generate.

"That model is still being worked on, and once that model is available it will be brought forth for Manitoba to see," Atwal says in a Monday press conference. "There is hundred of variables built into it, including interactions, vaccination status, and age."

Atwal could also not say what data the province has on COVID-19 long haulers, as this is diverted from Public Health to primary care. The province has not released what school COVID-19 cases could look like, another large concern for Hiebert.

"We are seeing in the United States and in other countries large numbers of cases among children including those under the age of 12, and also large numbers of children in hospital and large numbers of children in intensive care units, particularly in the United States," Hiebert says.

He says children have lost a lot due to the pandemic, in-person learning, clubs, and others activities, and does not want them to lose more to a potential fourth wave. 

"They deserve for us to take steps to protect them and to protect the chance for in-person learning in September. They really need this and they deserve this."

The doctor is asking people to continue to wear a mask in public, anyone who is eligible to, to get vaccinated to protect those who cannot.