A group of prominent Manitobans is urging Premier Brian Pallister to take "extreme action'' to avoid the kind of COVID-19 crisis unfolding in Ontario hospitals.

The group has sent a letter to Pallister signed by dozens of people including Olympic medallist Clara Hughes, musician Fred Penner and former northern grand chief Sheila North.

It calls on the premier to bring in strict public health orders to ward off a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases.

The letter was also signed by University of Manitoba virologist Dr. Jason Kindrachuk and Manitoba senators Mary Jane McCallum and Marilou McPhedran.