CALGARY – With just days to go until Alberta cuts out its last few remaining COVID-19 measures, family doctors in the province say the burden to test people and encourage them to isolate if they come back positive falls to them.
With that comes a long list of concerns.
“The fear, the concern that we are dreading is… there would be a newborn in our clinics, infants, children, elderly patients with multiple diseases, patients who are suffering from cancer, patients who have autoimmune diseases, [then] we can have a COVID-positive patient walking in and infecting them,” shared Dr. Mukarram Zaidi, a family physician.
“It’s an absolute frustration within the medical community right now.”
Doctors say they do their best to ensure physical distancing, but their clinics are typically small and there’s no sure-fire way to guarantee people won’t catch something if an infected person comes in.
“Once they have coughed into that area or been present for more than 10 to 15 minutes, that whole area has been infected,” he explained.
Dr. Mukarram Zaidi, a family physician in Calgary, worries about his patients catching COVID once the province shifts testing to doctors' offices.
He says he sees children, the elderly, immunocompromised people, and cancer patients in a space not suited for COVID testing. pic.twitter.com/7Ea29E7SX7
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“If a child is sitting on [a] seat and a COVID patient walks in who is positive, they’re exposing a person within their six feet distance over here.”
The hallways are small and there are only so many rooms in a small family clinic.
Zaidi says his office has yet to receive PPE from the province.
He says he and his staff are vaccinated but they worry they could become vectors for the virus themselves.
“Just the thought that instead of helping them and curing our patients, we could be an agent of disease, is dreadful to all of us.”
Zaidi wants the province to continue to test, trace and require isolation for positive cases.
It comes at a time when Alberta’s COVID-19 numbers are taking off. On Wednesday, the province recorded the highest single-day jump in cases since May.
CityNews reached out to the government for comment on the matter, in which it responded:
“Testing for symptomatic people will be available through physician referral to specific testing centres. It will be up to the physician to determine whether COVID-19 testing is required. Physicians are developing a clinical guideline to support primary care doctors in determining when to test patients with symptoms for COVID-19.
“Dr. Hinshaw has hosted two town halls for doctors and pharmacists, and another one is scheduled, going over the changes and information has been shared through the colleges and the primary care networks.”