Doctors in northwestern New Brunswick held a news conference on Wednesday to try and convince the local population to take the pandemic more seriously.
The Edmundston, N.B., region has been under a 14-day lockdown since Sunday and has nearly half the 339 active reported COVID-19 infections in the province.
Several doctors joined the Edmundston mayor for a virtual event to warn residents that the COVID-19 situation in the region could get out of hand if they don’t follow public health orders.
Dr. Jean-Philippe Lepage, an internist at the Edmundston Regional Hospital, told reporters that he and his colleagues hope the locals in the largely French-speaking part of the province will understand the urgency of the situation if they see doctors repeating the message.
There is concern, he said, that some residents don’t believe in the seriousness of the pandemic and aren’t interested in getting tested. “It’s in the face of the rising number of cases that we decided to sound the alarm because we know what could come; we’ve seen the predictions and we know if the situation doesn’t improve quickly, it could degenerate quickly,” Lepage said.
Dr. Vincent Moreau, an emergency room physician, said too many patients are showing up to the ER who don’t believe they have COVID-19 and haven’t been tested but who want to be treated for a bad cold.
“There’s no treatment for COVID-19 and by coming to the emergency room, you could be contaminating people who are sick or health-care employees,” Moreau said, adding that those with more serious symptoms should come to the hospital. The rest, he said, should get tested and limit their contacts.
Lepage said the situation in the region is worse in nursing homes than in hospitals, but said the relatively high number of cases in the community could quickly become unmanageable.
“As we are a small region, the health resources are limited, we don’t have hundreds of beds so if a lot of people get COVID at the same time, it will have an impact on the health system,” Lepage said.
As of Tuesday, New Brunswick had reported a total of 1,161 infections and 14 deaths linked to the virus. Seven patients were in hospital with the disease, including three in intensive care.