SASKATOON -- Nearly 200 Saskatchewan doctors want businesses to either close or transform in ways that prevent person-to-person interaction.

"This will be a painful but necessary way to prevent community transmission of COVID-19. The downstream impact of early action by our business community will save lives and give our healthcare system a fighting chance," says an open letter signed by 197 doctors, most from Saskatoon.

"We would not ask this of you if we thought there was any other way."

The province on Wednesday announced eight more presumptive cases of COVID-19 and declared a state of emergency.

The contact investigation has not yet demonstrated a link to travel in one of the cases,  the province's Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab, said in a news release.

"Which could signal local transmission," Shahab said.

As the province's residents isolate themselves from their neighbours, many businesses have closed, including dozens inside Saskatoon's Midtown Plaza. Others have turned to delivering their goods and services.

COVID-19 will overrun the health care system no matter what they do as health care providers without the help of businesses, the doctors say.

"We see the sacrifices you are making and thank you for this selfless act. We also understand that many of you have not made these changes for any number of reasons, including the very real threat to you and your employees' livelihood," the doctors say in the letter.

"We look to the Government of Saskatchewan and the Federal Government to develop programs to support you and your employees in what may be a long disruption."