WINNIPEG -- Several respiratory therapists are in self-isolation after being exposed to COVID-19 at St. Boniface Hospital, according to the Manitoba Association of Health Care Professionals.

Bob Moroz, president of the association, told CTV News that about seven to eight respiratory therapists have been sent home.

“We don’t yet know for how long and how long they’ll clear them to get back,” he said.

Moroz said hospitals are already struggling to keep up with rising COVID-19 case numbers in the city, and the loss of these respiratory therapists will be felt.

“At a time like this with COVID-19, when we are seeing hospitalizations and ICU utilization going up, they are as critical as any individual on that team,” he said.

As of Monday, there were 80 people hospitalized due to COVID-19, including 15 people in intensive care.

According to Moroz, there are about 50 respiratory therapists at St. Boniface.

“You know respiratory therapists not being able to go to work is going to be a pinch for the hospitals and those still in the hospitals to try and make up the workload,” Moroz said, “It’s going to be a problem.”

The Manitoba Association of Health Care Professionals said health care professionals currently go on administrative leave when self-isolating but have to go on income protection if they become symptomatic.

“It’s causing people a bit of a pinch,” said Moroz. “Certainly, when you have an exposure at work, it’s not your fault.”

The association is advocating for more government support and presumptive workers compensation for cases like these.

CTV News has reached out to the WRHA for comment.