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Manitoba mulling possibility of allowing COVID-19 positive health-care workers to keep working

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Manitoba’s top doctor says the province is looking at the possibility of having health-care workers who test positive for COVID-19 stay on the job to help avoid strain on the system.

During a media availability on Monday, Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer, was asked if the health-care system is in danger of losing people due to positive tests among workers and what happens if health-care workers test positive for COVID-19. He said the spread of the Omicron variant in Manitoba is having an impact on critical services such as health care.

“We will have severe outcomes, which puts strain, but then we’ll also see people working in critical jobs where they might be out having to isolate even if they have mild illness,” Roussin said.

“So as of right now, we make changes to health-care workers who may have been in close contact, if they’re double vaccinated, we can have them back under certain circumstances. And then, of course, if we get under a lot of strain because of transmission, we may have to look at things like that, as right now we don't have a policy where test positives come back and work, but we might have to take steps if necessary.”

Other provinces either have implemented similar plans for health-care workers or are considering them.

On Tuesday, Quebec Health Minister announced some health workers who have tested positive for COVID-19 will be allowed to stay on the job.

He said the move is necessary to keep the health-care system operational, and the decision would be made on a case-by-case basis under certain conditions.

A directive in Quebec says that workers who have been exposed to the virus, but haven't themselves tested positive, will be the first to be recalled from their isolation in case of a critical staff shortage.

However, as a "last resort," workers who are themselves positive or just got over a case of COVID-19 and are still meant to be in isolation may also be recalled to work, as long as they are assigned to "hot zones," working with COVID-19 patients.

Ontario is also considering a similar plan.

 

- With files from CTV Montreal’s Joe Lofaro and The Canadian Press

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