Sick doctors urge Manitobans to take COVID-19 pandemic seriously

A doctor making their rounds. File / Pixabay

A Manitoba doctor with COVID-19 — likely contracted during face-to-face encounters with around 100 COVID-positive patients over the past few weeks — says he wants Manitobans to take the virus seriously.

“I would say that I’m probably more on the mild end of the cases, based on what I’ve seen, but even so… I would say this has been tied for the worst flu-like illness of my life,” Dr. Paul Foster told 680 CJOB.

Foster, who works out of Bethesda Regional Health Centre in Steinbach, Man., is one of a growing number of health-care workers getting sidelined by the virus, and while he’s itching to get back on the front lines to help his community, he’s still at home dealing with symptoms.

“Obviously this is becoming more and more serious day by day, and I think that the vast majority of Manitobans are having a good, level-headed response to that and are willing to take the steps necessary to curb the spread and prevent further deaths,” he said.

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“I would encourage people to really take the new public health orders seriously — stay at home, stay in your bubble, and really think about what’s essential in terms of leaving the house.”

Read more: Steinbach doctor speaking out after testing positive for COVID-19

Last week, the Manitoba government closed restaurants, bars, gyms, non-essential retail stores and other facilities in an attempt to reduce increasing COVID-19 caseloads.

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The province continues to see high numbers of new cases and deaths — breaking a number of its own records in recent weeks — as well as protests, including one in Foster’s community of Steinbach, that have frustrated medical professionals and politicians alike.

Read more: RCMP, Manitoba hand out fines for those flouting COVID-19 rules

“I don’t really understand where the sentiment comes from, to be honest, because we’re certainly hurting at the hospital and stretched to our limit in terms of staffing and what we can handle,” said Foster.

“Masks are one of the few things in medicine where we can say this absolutely makes a difference.”

“We are getting pushed to near the limit, but I want people to know we’re out there working hard to keep things under control.”

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Read more: ‘Rage tears’: family of ill Winnipeg doctor expresses frustration with minister, province

Susan Krepart has also seen the effects of the virus first-hand, when her husband, Winnipeg doctor Owen Mooney, was pulled off the front line due to infection.

Krepart told 680 CJOB the virus is a force to be reckoned with and should absolutely be taken seriously.

“The fact that he recovered presumes this was a mild case… but his cough could’ve shaken the walls of this house, and you can certainly see how people who are immunocompromised might not recover.

“He’s a very, very healthy person for his age — or any age — and it was the sickest he was ever been in his life… and it happened swiftly and without mercy.”

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: Manitoba records youngest COVID-19 death, 270 new cases'
Coronavirus: Manitoba records youngest COVID-19 death, 270 new cases

Krepart said Mooney likely picked up the virus from his work in the ICU, and although he recently returned to work after self-isolating, it took 10 days of being alone in his basement, separated from his family, before he recovered.

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“There’s an anxiety that happens when you get a diagnosis because you just don’t know,” she said.

“When you’re hearing all these numbers and you’re seeing this ticker tape on news sources… when someone you love becomes one of those, it hits different, I’m telling you.”

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