Readers ask: care facilities, equal approaches and how to reopen

·3 min read

Brandon Sun readers request specific questions be asked about COVID-19.

QUESTION: It has been more than 80 days since residents in long-term care facilities have been able to participate in group activities, while being kept isolated in their rooms. The effects of isolation and inactivity is becoming very apparent. When will we see some loosening of the long-term care guidelines?

DR. BRENT ROUSSIN: This is back to all that balancing. We see the effects of an outbreak in these facilities as devastating. We’ve seen that on far too many occasions, unfortunately.

Trying to find that balance can be difficult and most of the things we do — the restrictions, the preventative measures we have in place — do have unintended consequences. But, we have to remember, we don’t have to look too far backward on what the effects of an outbreak are in these facilities.

So we’re going to do it cautiously because we know that is a devastating result.

QUESTION: I do not understand why provinces and territories all seem to take different actions and efforts to contain COVID. Wouldn’t a united front with all using the same approach, mandated by the federal government, make sense?

ROUSSIN: For the most part, health care is decided upon at the provincial level, and we know that there’s different epidemiology in various regions.

I mean, we see different epidemiology within our province itself. So we’ve taken different approaches, even within different regions. To have a one size fits all approach throughout Canada isn’t going to be effective because we see different epidemiology in different places.

But, overall, the plan is very similar. I meet with my colleagues across the nation quite frequently, and we discuss our approaches. And while the timing of the pandemic takes place at different stages throughout Canada, the overall approach to public health restrictions, to case identification, contact tracing and isolation has a lot of overlap.

QUESTION: If there is a surge in cases following the reopening of restaurants, gyms, sports, personal services, etc., how will you know which type of location would be responsible for those higher numbers? Why not take a more phased approach?

ROUSSIN: This is, again, back to the challenge of these restrictions and the reopening plan. We definitely want to take a very phased approach or very cautious approach, because we don’t want to have to go back.

But, again, if the idea is just to take that phased approach, then we have to choose winners and losers within this group that we are. So who do we take off that list, then? Then, of course, whatever sectors, or people who find those sectors important to them, would be quite affected. So it’s challenging. We’re looking for things that we feel the risk-benefit ratio is proper. We’ll have to watch these very closely, and, in any of these things, we have very strict measures.

I think Manitobans can look back to October and remember what happens if we lose track. So I think that there is that very common sense that every sector themselves views what they’ve done as good and, for the most part, probably is.

But, to think that everything can be opened safely … We don’t have to look very far in the past. Just look to November. We didn’t look safe. So we need to be very, very cautious as we reopen things.

Do you have a question about something in your community? Send your questions to opinion@brandonsun.com with the subject line: Readers Ask.

Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun