By Dr. Brent Roussin (@roussin_brent)
We need your help, Manitoba. We need to stop the spread of COVID-19 to save the lives of Manitobans, save our health care system and save our summer.
Through the fall and winter, we implemented some of Canada’s strictest public health orders, and Manitobans did their part to make case numbers drop. Together, we helped bend the COVID-19 curve.
This spring, the COVID-19 variants first identified in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil arrived, changing the rules. These variants spread more easily, and our case numbers are rising once more.
It has been a long 15 months. We have had to give up many of the things we love. We were not able to visit with our friends and families. We had to postpone many medical appointments to care for COVID-19 patients to save our services, and people have been living in pain.
Now, there is hope on the horizon. Nearly 40 per cent Manitobans over the age of 18 have received at least one dose of vaccine. Every day, thousands more Manitobans are vaccinated and over the next four weeks, an additional 300,000 doses will be administered. By early June, we expect there will be enough doses for every Manitoban who wants one.
The end is in sight. Around the world, we see the benefits of vaccination – people are returning to the things they love, and we will too.
Earlier this week, we had to announce more public health orders to keep people safe and to help avoid another major lockdown of services. The orders are a foundation for action, but we need everyone to follow the spirit of the orders and do just a bit more to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and save our summer.
When we are this tired it is easy to forget, or worse, ignore, the rules that are necessary to keep us safe. Every time we gather – in small groups or large, in private and in public – we risk spreading the virus and prolonging these restrictions.
We need businesses, workplaces and other organizations to help their employees work from home and stay home if they are sick, and to reduce the contact between staff and customers. We need coaches and officials with sports organization to think about who is really required at the field or pitch. We need faith leaders to take extra precautions when holding in-person services.
We need you to get the first vaccine you are eligible for, as soon as you can. In the meantime, we also need you to stay home as much as possible. Send one person out for groceries and other items. Whenever you’re outside your household, we need you to take responsibility for physically distancing, minimizing your close contacts and wearing a mask whenever you’re in contact with other people.
We want to keep Manitobans safe. We want to keep businesses open, we want to keep people being active and we want to keep faith groups worshipping. We want to make sure that we protect not only the physical health of Manitobans, but also the mental, social and economic health of our communities.
It has been a long time and we are all tired. But we all need to do just a bit more, for just a bit longer. We need all Manitobans to resist bending the rules, and we can save our summer.
Dr. Brent Roussin is Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer