Next week, Manitobans could be asked to share their opinions of the current Public Health Orders with officials.
After seeing thousands of Manitobans not follow the restrictions over the holidays, Dr. Brent Roussin is extending the orders. Roussin says that the current Public Health Orders were shared with the public later than usual because they needed to monitor cases, noticing a bump in recent days. Public Health has recorded close to 2,000 instances of people being in direct contact with COVID-19 over the course of the holidays.
If case numbers decrease, Manitobans will be able to give their opinion on what they would like to see changed in the health orders.
"We know it is difficult, but the alternative is to overrun our healthcare system," Roussin says. "While very difficult, these restrictions are necessary."
The province is expected to share more participation details in the upcoming week.
"We have been asking Manitobans to restrict your life for 8 weeks and that is quite some time."
The doctor says the vast majority of Manitobans have been following the COVID-19 regulations, but the ones that did not follow and spread the virus resulted. Roussin says 355 cases and nearly 1,900 contacts are directly linked to holiday gatherings. This made an impact on health orders. He is not lifting the restrictions out of concern that COVID-19 could spread further.
The upcoming days will play a role in determining if orders will change after January 22. The Chief Public Health Officer is hopeful that restrictions could loosen in two weeks.
Roussin says he understands the frustration of Manitobans but says the focus must remain on following the fundamentals in order for them to be lifted. He says the orders have proven to work.
"We were set to have a thousand cases a day in early December. We put these restrictions on, as difficult as they are, and we are down to under 150 cases last week. So they absolutely work and we have had a lot of our healthcare system slow down," he says. "If we let up now, we are again at risk of overwhelming our healthcare system."
Next week, some elective surgeries will begin to take place. Roussin says that while those surgeries are nowhere near the backlog, it is encouraging to see them begin to happen.
"If you require medical care and support it is safe. So please access that."
Roussin says he understands the pandemic and restrictions have created mental health difficulties and is encouraging Manitobans to use the province's resources which includes two sessions of free counselling.