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Coronavirus: Saskatchewan doctors beg businesses to shut down to prevent spread of COVID-19

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus outbreak: Saskatchewan declares state of emergency' Coronavirus outbreak: Saskatchewan declares state of emergency
WATCH: Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe declares state of emergency – Mar 18, 2020

Nearly 200 doctors from across Saskatchewan are asking businesses to voluntarily shut down or consider ways of delivering service without in-person interaction amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The practitioners  —  from Swift Current to Saskatoon, Regina to Humboldt — signed an open letter addressed to the “business community” quite literally begging operators to close their doors to prevent community transmission.

“Please, we beg you, join us in battling this disease,” states the letter, being shared online.

“The downstream impact of early action by our business community will save lives and give our healthcare system a fighting chance. We would not ask this of you if we thought there was any other way.”

READ MORE: Saskatchewan COVID-19 cases double to 16 in province

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As of Wednesday, there were 16 COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan. The figure is twice what was recorded on Tuesday.

Saskatchewan has declared a state of emergency.

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan declares state of emergency as coronavirus concerns grow' Saskatchewan declares state of emergency as coronavirus concerns grow
Saskatchewan declares state of emergency as coronavirus concerns grow – Mar 18, 2020

Gatherings of more than 50 people are now prohibited. While gyms, casinos and bingo halls have been ordered to close, restaurants, bars and event centres are allowed to remain open for now.

However, they must abide by the 50-person cap or run at half-capacity if that means fewer people in one location. Not subject to the rule: grocery stores.

“We are so grateful to those of you who have already taken initiatives to protect Saskatchewan from COVID-19. By closing your doors, becoming ‘take-out only,’ allowing your employees to work from home, waiving the need for sick notes and discouraging non essential movement within our community, you have shown that you understand the threat that we are facing,” the letter states.

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READ MORE: Saskatchewan declares state of emergency as coronavirus concerns grow

Saskatoon-based neurologist Paul Masiowski said he signed the letter because he believes in its message.

“If I think something dangerous is going on; I’d be remiss if I didn’t say anything,” he told Global News. “The sooner we change public behaviour, the more of an effect it has.

Masiowski said the letter is not meant to be a threat. He emphasized that the request is that businesses voluntarily close or find other, less traditional ways of operating.

“We want them to hear the urgency,” Masiowski said.

Provincial NDP Leader Ryan Meili, who provided a copy of the letter to Global News, said the doctors’ plea demonstrates gaps in Saskatchewan’s state of emergency measures.

Premier Scott Moe said the state of emergency is in the first phase. Restaurants, bars and event centres could be ordered to close as the situation evolves.

While Saskatchewan students will be out of school as of Friday, daycares, which are still open, should prepare for changes in the near future, Moe said.

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Meili, who is a family physician by trade, but not signatory to the letter, said the state of emergency is both late and inadequate.

“We’ve yet to see enough measures when it comes to social distancing,” Meili said.

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

Health officials say the risk is low for Canadians but warn this could change quickly. They caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are asked to self-isolate for 14 days in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others.

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. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

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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