Sask. doctors call for more enforcement of COVID-19 rules, fines when restrictions are breached
Resident doctor Kelvin Lou puts a CVC line into a patient in a COVID suspect room in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul's hospital in downtown Vancouver, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
SASKATOON -- A group of Saskatchewan physicians have addressed another letter to the province expressing concern that “additional interventions” announced by the government on Friday do not go far enough to address concerns of the healthcare system.
The letter says without aggressive intervention, case numbers in Saskatchewan “will continue to increase exponentially”, which would “overwhelm a healthcare system that is already functioning a capacity and result in the deaths of people from both COVID-19 and other causes.”
Dr. Brent Thoma, one of the physicians who authored the letter said the healthcare system is often running close to capacity, so when an event like the COVID-19 pandemic arrives there isn’t “extra space or extra staff” in intensive care units.
He says that the measures announced by the government won’t be “adequate to reverse the rising cases”, and are quite similar to the measures taken by Alberta and Manitoba, which haven’t worked in those provinces.
“The perspective I have, this is urgent and we need to be doing more,” he said. “It sounds like my perspective differs from theirs right now, but I hope we can bridge that, and I hope that our call of concern and call for more intervention will be heard and will be considered.”
Thoma adds that many of what the physicians are asking for aren’t “dramatic departures” from what the government is doing, but they are “certainly more."
The physicians are asking for:
- Mandatory masking in all public spaces and businesses across the province without restriction based upon the size of community
- Increase of testing capacity to ensure that the results of COVID-19 tests are reported within 24 hours
- Deployment of mobile testing teams to enable the safe testing o vulnerable populations and those who are not capable of reaching a testing site
- Increase in contact tracing capacity to ensure that it can be completed within 48 hours of positive test results from the return of a positive test result
- Dedicated funding to ensure that patients who are under investigation for COVID-19 but do not require hospitalization are provided with shelter that allows them to isolate in keeping with public health guidelines
- A public education campaign addressing COVID-19 myths and encouraging behaviours that decrease transmission
- The enforcement of all current social distancing restrictions with fines when restrictions are breached
The letter goes on to say that “these interventions will take time to put in place,” and “to prevent the need for a complete lockdown” they call for:
- The immediate closure of business types that have been shown to play a significant role in the spread of COVID-19 (e.g. bars, bingo halls, gyms, places of worship) for a minimum of 28 days
- Targeted shutdown of regions of the province experiencing outbreaks
“We’re not calling for a full lockdown right now, that’s not what we’re going for, we want to prevent that,” said Thoma.
“We as much as everyone else in our community and in Saskatchewan do not want to have to go there, but I think we need to escalate more aggressively than we are already to avoid