WINNIPEG -- Researchers at the University of Manitoba are leading the province's first clinical trial to test if a malaria drug can prevent people from contracting COVID-19.

The university announced the measures Wednesday and said the research team is now recruiting volunteers to participate in the study.

The university said that Hydroxychloroquine has been used to prevent and treat malaria since the 1950s and is Health Canada-approved. The researchers from the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences will study trail participants that have tested positive for COVID-19 or live with someone who has tested positive.

To be eligible, the person must have a confirmed case of COVID-19, with symptoms beginning in the past four days, and they must be self-isolating at home. People are also eligible if they live with a person who has a confirmed case of COVID-19, with exposure in the past four days but has no symptoms.

The trial is also open to health-care workers who were exposed to patients with confirmed cases of the virus in the past four days.

Manitobans who meet the eligibility and want to participate can visit the online screening questionnaire.

The trial will take place in Manitoba, Quebec, Alberta and the United States. Those who volunteer for the study will have the drug or placebo shipped to them the day after they are eligible.

The trial lead, Dr. Ryan Zarychanski, is an associate professor in the department of internal medicine at the U of M's Max Rady College of Medicine, and department of medical oncology and hematology, CancerCare Manitoba.

Zarychanski said in a news release that this is the first COVID-19 clinical trial open in Manitoba focused on flattening the curve.

“Preliminary studies have strongly suggested that hydroxychloroquine can reduce the ability of the virus to replicate," Zarychanski said. “It’s not known if it has the same effect in humans, but it’s the team’s goal to find out."

The trial, which is done with researchers at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, the University of Alberta and the University of Minnesota, is scheduled to start in Quebec and Alberta in the coming days.