After more than two years of providing COVID-19 updates, sometimes as often as five times per week, Manitoba’s chief public health officer addressed the media at the last regularly scheduled pandemic briefing March 16.
Rather than providing hospitalization numbers or other data during the virtual press conference, Dr. Brent Roussin focused on how the virus will be dealt with in the future and how Manitobans can try to break down divisions that arose as a result fo disagreement over public health restrictions.
“This virus certainly isn’t done with us,” Roussin said. “We can’t wait for COVID-19 to be gone before we start our journey of healing.”
Acknowledging that there are varying opinions on whether it was the right move to do away with restrictions now, or whether it should have happened earlier or later, Roussin urged people to be kind to each other and respectful of individual decisions, such as whether or not to wear a mask in some situations.
“I’ll certainly be wearing a mask in crowded indoor public places,” he said.
And while many PCR testing sites will be closing down, Roussin said there will still be sufficient information from people whose infections sicken them badly enough to require hospitalization to provide a clear picture about the virus’s prevalence in Manitoba.
“Our work on the virus is not stopping at this point,” he said. “There’s still a lot of work for public health to be addressing moving forward.”
While the public health doctor believes the likelihood of a new wave of infections caused by emerging variants will not come as a surprise to Manitoba if it does happen and that the high number of Manitobans with vaccine-induced or naturally acquired immunity should prove some degree of protection, the province has plans to cope with that situation should it arise.
“We do have the ability to ramp up our response as necessary,” Roussin said.