'Telephone tag': Manitobans urged to answer phone calls from COVID-19 contact tracers
Dr. Jazz Atwal, the acting deputy chief provincial public health officer for Manitoba, answers a question at a COVID-19 briefing on Dec. 16, 2020. (CTV News Photo Glenn Pismenny)
WINNIPEG -- Manitobans are being reminded to keep an eye on their phones as the province continues to work on contact tracing for COVID-19.
Health officials said if someone is identified as a close contact they will receive a call notifying them of the situation and the steps they must take.
"Our numbers have started to come down but when people don't answer their phones that means people who have been identified as close contacts and exposed to COVID-19, who eventually could become positive and transmit the virus to others before symptoms develop are not isolating," said Dr. Jazz Atwal, who is the acting deputy chief provincial public health officer.
He said Manitobans could receive calls from three different numbers, the first being from a normal '204' area code, the second could be '1-888' and the third could be '1-855'.
Atwal said the reason for this is because the Red Cross and Statistics Canada are helping with the calls on top of the automated phone calls.
"Please be sure to pay particular attention to your phone calls, even if they are from different area codes, it could be us calling with important information about your health."
For those who do miss the calls, Atwal said contact tracers are leaving messages, but he said if people can answer the phone the first time that would be more beneficial.
"People do have to answer that phone, they do have to connect with (contact tracers), otherwise there is a lot of telephone tag that gets involved in this process. So if you are not able to connect with someone right away that resource is taken away to be able to do some work."
Manitoba added five new deaths and 133 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday.