Manitoba doctors in self-isolation after attending bonspiel

By | March 19, 2020

WINNIPEG — A small group of Manitoba doctors is in self-isolation after participating in a curling bonspiel in Edmonton which was also attended by a Saskatchewan doctor who has since been diagnosed with a presumptive case of COVID-19.

In a statement to CTV Winnipeg, Doctors Manitoba said it was aware of three doctors from the province who attended the bonspiel at the Granite Curling Club.

The bonspiel was also attended by Dr. Allan Woo, president of the Saskatchewan Medical Association, who said in a letter to members that he tested positive for the virus Wednesday night.

“I attended a curling bonspiel held March 11-14 in Edmonton,” he said in the letter Thursday. “This bonspiel is an annual event that usually attracts 50-60 physicians from Western Canada.

“I believe I contracted the COVID-19 virus at this bonspiel,” he wrote.

Doctors Manitoba said the three Manitoba doctors who attended the event have been practising safe isolation.

“Public health officials would assess those present and provide advice about testing and self-isolation,” said spokesperson Keir Johnson in an email to CTV Winnipeg.

“We are informed none saw any patients.”

Dr. Saqib Shahab, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, told reporters in Regina an investigation is now underway.

“This investigation involves two provinces at least,” he said. “All of the information is being collected and communicated to all the provinces from where people may have come to that event.

“Details are sought about where each of the participants were, did certain people sit together as a group and mix more than others, and based on that a determination will be made shortly — in a day or two — does this involve all people who attended?”

Shahab said all of the participants have been alerted about the positive tests, meaning they are required to be in self-isolation until further details are known.

“It does not mean everyone will be identified as a close contact,” he said.

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said she was made aware of the positive tests on Thursday morning.

“We do know there were approximately 72 curlers. We do not know if they were all in the same place at the same time,” she said. “Then there was a banquet that had about 45 attendees.”

Hinshaw said the person that Dr. Woo could have contracted COVID-19 from may have travelled to Las Vegas.

“We’re making sure that all of those who attended know that they have to self-isolate for 14 days,” she said. “We are taking this very seriously.”

The Saskatchewan Medical Association said it doesn’t know how many physicians from the province attended the event.

It’s also not yet known how many doctors in Alberta are in isolation and how their absence might impact the health-care system during the pandemic.

 Woo said in his letter that his diagnosis is a reminder that physicians are not invincible.

 “The risks of this pandemic are far too real,” he wrote. “I hope my personal situation serves as a signal for all health-care workers, and others, to be vigilant about their health.

 “Everyone needs to take precautions and self-monitor for any symptoms.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 19, 2020

 — With files from Colette Derworiz and Stephanie Taylor

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