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Saskatchewan doctors providing virtual appointments amid novel coronavirus concerns

WATCH: Coverage in Saskatchewan on COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

A new measure in Saskatchewan will allow doctors to provide virtual appointments to patients.

The province said it enhances patient access while providing support for physician safety with the growing concern around COVID-19, the disease caused by novel coronavirus.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan confirms first presumptive case of novel coronavirus

“Keeping Saskatchewan residents healthy and containing community transmission of this coronavirus is a priority for our government,” Health Minister Jim Reiter said Friday in a release.

“Provision of virtual care by telephone or video is just one strategy we are using to ensure residents have options for accessing health care.”

With the new system, patients can connect with a doctor by telephone.

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READ MORE: Moose Jaw, Sask. school staff member tested for novel coronavirus

The Saskatchewan Medical Association (SMA) supports the move.

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“The SMA is pleased with this development because it provides patients with remote access to physicians,” SMA president Dr. Allan Woo said in a statement.

“This kind of access also provides a safer work environment for doctors and their staff during this pandemic.”

“We need a healthy physician workforce to tackle the challenges presented by the outbreak of COVID-19.”

Health officials said they are working to provide patients with access to doctors through secure video.

This option may be available as early as the week of March 16.

READ MORE: Health minister calls for immediate action to address Saskatchewan HealthLine 811 backlog

Government officials said the risk of COVID-19 to Saskatchewan residents remains low.

To date, there has been one confirmed presumptive case of COVID-19 in Saskatchewan.

The patient, who is in their 60s, was tested in Saskatoon on March 9 and health officials confirmed the diagnosis on Thursday.

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Concerned about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials say the risk is very low for Canadians, but they caution against travel to affected areas (a list can be found here). If you do travel to these places, they recommend you self-monitor to see whether you develop symptoms and if you do, to contact public health authorities.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing – very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. And if you get sick, stay at home.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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