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Coronavirus: Manitoba launches online COVID-19 screening tool

Manitoba Shared Health launched an online screening tool for COVID-19 Tuesday. Shane Gibson/Global News

The Manitoba government has launched a new online screening tool for COVID-19.

The site, which went live Monday evening, aims to help those worried they may need to be tested for the virus to determine whether or not to call Health Links/Info Santé or seek other medical advice.

While health officials acknowledged some issues with site’s early functionality, they hope it will ultimately help deal with an overload of calls to Health Links/Info Santé.

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As of Tuesday morning, the new online tool had already been used around 13,000 times, said officials.

“It’s a multi-pronged solution, and it’s kind of good that they’re going to the website, we will make sure that it’s up and running,” said Manitoba’s chief nursing officer Lanette Siragusa Tuesday.

“Hopefully, between the phone with Health Links, the interactive questions online and the other solutions, between the three of them we can find a balance.”

The province said Health Links/Info Santé was phoned 2,000 times on Monday and the average wait was just shy of two hours.

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“We’re very, very pleased that we could be able to stand up this online tool as quickly as we could,” said Manitoba Health Minister Cameron Friesen.

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“I am in contact with my counterparts in other jurisdictions that have told me that quickly after the introduction of an online tool, it is a significant way of diverting traffic effectively and appropriately from the phone lines.”

The province also said Tuesday a new interactive voice response system will soon greet callers to Health Links/Info Santé, allowing screening questions to be answered prior to being connected to operators.

Siragusa said told CJOB 680 Tuesday there’s currently a staff of around 40 working at Health Links, and the province is working to add additional call lines.

Manitoba’s chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, has been adamant that only people who fit the criteria — who are symptomatic and/or have a history of travel — should get tested to avoid taxing the system.

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–With files from Sam Thompson

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

Health officials say the risk for Canadians is low.

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 hand washing and coughing into your sleeve — if you get sick, stay at home.

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

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Coronavirus outbreak: Manitoba officials say no tests will be done on asymptomatic people

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