The Manitoba government is preparing to spend about $35 million on personal protective supplies as part of a federally organized bulk purchase to deal with the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“The risk in Manitoba currently is low,” Health Minister Cameron Friesen said Tuesday. “But that risk level will change as we continue to understand that this virus is on the move.”
The purchase through the Public Health Agency of Canada will include items such as gloves, face masks and shields, thermometer covers and hand sanitizer for patients and health-care workers. Friesen said Manitoba is the first province to sign on.
The decision was made out of an abundance of caution, Friesen added, to ensure Manitoba is well-positioned to manage any additional demand on resources.
There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, in Manitoba. Ninety-seven people had been tested as of last Thursday.
There have been about 80 confirmed cases in Canada and COVID-19 has been linked to the death of a man in his 80s in Vancouver.
Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer, said everyone has a role in preventing the spread of the coronavirus.
He encouraged people to frequently wash their hands, cover their coughs, and avoid touching their face. He said it’s also important people stay home when they feel sick.
“We can all play a role in preventing this spread,” he said.
The province has widened the scope of people being tested, he added.
It is recommending all international travellers with symptoms get checked, and all severely ill patients admitted to intensive care units are being tested.
The Public Health Agency of Canada has recommended that Canadians avoid cruise ship travel due to the virus.
A plane carrying 288 Canadians who were passengers on a cruise ship hit by the virus returned to Canada this week. They are being isolated at the Canadian Forces Base in Trenton, Ont.
Some Canadian crew members on the ship have tested positive and remain on board. Other passengers remain in California for medical reasons unrelated to the virus.