Manitoba launches online program targeting those anxious about coronavirus

Premier Brian Pallister and Health Minister Cameron Friesen will update Manitobans on the latest COVID-19 measures.

The Manitoba government is launching an online program to help people who feel anxious about novel coronavirus.

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“Many of us are feeling concerns over whether we will get sick, the health of our families, the security of our jobs, being isolated from our loved ones and many other variables,” said Premier Brian Pallister.

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“As part of our emergency response to COVID-19, we are introducing an easily accessible virtual option to help support Manitobans.”

The province has partnered with Morneau Shepell, a Canadian online HR firm, for the program. The program will cost $4.5 million.

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“We are the first jurisdiction in Canada to be signing up for such a service,” said Health Minister Cameron Friesen.

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Manitobans aged 16 and over can access the service anywhere through a smartphone or computer, and will be available on the Manitoba government website in two weeks, said Friesen.

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“We’ve all got friends that are feeling stressed,” said Pallister. “There are these fears out there, that’s why this service is so critical.”

Manitoba’s COVID-19 cases currently stand at 36. One person is in hospital in critical condition.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Manitoba asks for emergency federal credit fund, says PST won’t be reduced

On Thursday, the premier said the previously announced PST cut to 6 per cent on July 1 would not be happening this year, and asked the federal government to implement a fund that would allow provinces to borrow money at a cheaper interest rate.

He also said the province’s rainy day fund would shortly be depleted, and the provincial government estimates it will need to borrow at least $5 billion to keep health care running during the pandemic.

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

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers must 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.

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To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

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