As COVID-19 reaches Alberta, some local doctors are speaking out about the province's level of preparedness in case of a widespread crisis. On Thursday, March 5, 2020, a group of Edmonton doctors sent an open letter to the government citing a wide variety of issues connected to the province's handling of a possible COVID-19 outbreak. The letter was sent only an hour before the first Alberta coronavirus case was announced.
The Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association, which consists of 1600 Edmonton doctors, sent this letter as a press release at around 3:38 p.m. on Thursday afternoon.
In the letter, the EZMSA state that the provincial government is displaying a "lack of readiness" that is actively placing Albertans at risk amidst a possible novel coronavirus outbreak.
CTV News obtained the contents of the letter, where the doctors claim to be forced into going into the frontline without being properly informed on the matter.
The doctors also accuse the government of not providing them with essential equipment and materials that would enable them to safely attend to the patients.
"We need masks too. We need face shields, we need eye protection, and hand protection. And it has suddenly become extremely difficult to get this for ourselves and for our staff." said Don Wilson, President of the EZMSA, in the letter.
Soon after the letter was published, Alberta Chief Medical Officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced the first presumptive COVID-19 case in Alberta.
The patient is a woman in her 50s from Calgary, who recently returned from the Grand Princess cruise that was quarantined off the coast of California.
As stated by CBC News, Hinshaw has assured the public that the government is working closely with Alberta Health Services, the Alberta Medical Association and the primary health networks to provide information to the people.
Hinshaw said she was concerned to see that message from the group of Edmonton doctors but also perceived it as a great opportunity to coordinate with the group to get more information out.
The letter also claims that the community doctors are not sure where they stand as the virus hits Alberta. In addition to lacking equipment for the doctors and their staff, they are also claiming that they haven't been receiving direct information from the government.
They are instead having to rely on media updates on the situation.
Narcity has reached out to Alberta Health Service for comment and we will update this story when we receive a response.