COVID-19 Update – November 9

Situation Update

Since our last update on Friday, there have been 1,076 new cases of COVID-19 identified in the last three days. This includes 365 new cases today, bringing the total number of cases identified so far in Manitoba to 8,495.

The five-day test positivity rate in Manitoba is 9.5%, up from 9.1%. In Winnipeg, the test positive rate is 9.3%, up from 9.2%. 

There are currently 5,152 active cases, up from 4,286 on Friday. This includes a record 192 people in hospital, up from 161, with 28 in ICU. 

Thirteen more COVID-related deaths have occurred since Friday, including three today. This means so far 109 Manitobans have died from COVID-19. 

You can learn more about the current situation in today‚Äôs public health bulletin.

Dr. Brent Roussin indicated he is concerned with these trends. These next few days are critical to see if the restrictions introduced a week ago are having an impact, though it can take a full two weeks. Dr. Roussin also explained that he met with Premier Pallister this morning to discuss further restrictions may be required. 

Because of increasing cases, Southern Health Region is now at red (critical) on the pandemic response system starting today. Restrictions mirror those already in place in Winnipeg. 

Have You Had to Isolate?

As cases surge, stress about the prospect of having to isolate or contracting COVID-19 is increasing as well. 

We request all physicians to let us know if you’ve isolated or tested positive for COVID-19. Please submit this confidential form to Doctors Manitoba each time you have to isolate or if you test positive.  This will assist us in our efforts to negotiate sickness and isolation support.

Today, it was reported that a health care worker from Victoria General Hospital infected with COVID-19 has died. There are 35 staff connected to the Victoria outbreak who have been infected so far. 

Last week, Dr. Owen Mooney took his experience public after testing positive while working on a COVID ward at St. Boniface Hospital. We understand that at least four physicians have tested positive in just the last week. Unfortunately, we are not informed how many physicians have had to isolate.

Unlike most provinces, few physicians in Manitoba get any support from the government if they have to isolate or if they get infected with COVID-19. As you risk exposure to COVID-19 to provide in-person care during COVID-19, you risk disrupting your practice if you have to stay home to isolate or recover. 

Doctors Manitoba has been advocating since the beginning of this pandemic for continued remuneration for physicians that must isolate or those who become ill with COVID-19. If staying home when sick or exposed to COVID-19 is the right thing to do, removing barriers to following that advice should be a priority.

We have drafted a policy paper on illness and isolation support for physicians to step up our advocacy efforts. You can view a confidential draft of this policy paper here. We need your feedback about this policy paper to help us make the strongest case possible for supporting physicians. After reviewing the paper, send your advice to covid19@doctorsmanitoba.ca.

Tragic Situation in PCHs

There has been growing attention over the last few days on the tragic situation evolving at Maples PCH. That facility has recorded 122 residents who tested positive and 22 who have died.

Paramedics were called on Friday. An investigation is underway, but further help from the Red Cross is not set to arrive until this Friday. Paramedics are offering support in the meantime. The Health Minister has ordered an investigation into both Maples PCH and Parkview Place, which has seen 115 residents infected and 23 deaths.  The Winnipeg Police Service Homicide Unit is investigating Maples PCH to see if there was a failure to provide the necessities of life. 

There are 31 PCHs with COVID-19 outbreaks today. 

Can you help extend PCH medical coverage? If you are willing to help provide additional medical coverage of PCHs, complete our Call for Help form today!

Doctors Manitoba is making recommendations to try to prevent outbreaks and, when they do occur, get them under control quickly, including:

  1. Clarify the chain of command, reporting structure and protocols for escalating issues for rapid problem-solving and resolution.
  2. Ensure a geriatric specialist is prominent on the Incident Command structure and other senior planning tables concerning the pandemic response.
  3. Audit and augment staffing in PCHs ensuring, at minimum, the nurse and health care aide coverage is at or above recommended levels.  Acknowledge these ratios were determined for non-COVID times, and make adjustments accordingly, especially during an outbreak.
  4. Create and deploy rapid response teams to all PCHs with outbreaks to help monitor individual residents and support the facility in taking all the necessary steps to limit spread of the virus.
  5. Create a larger pool of primary care physicians and geriatricians to offer increased to support PCHs during the pandemic, especially when outbreaks are declared.
  6. While the surge in PCH cases is ongoing, intensify public health restrictions and response.  Research has found that increased deaths in PCH follow increased community transmission of the virus.

Please send us your feedback on these recommendations by emailing covid19@doctorsmanitoba.ca.

Hospital Contingency Plans

On Friday, we notified you that Shared Health had posted their hospital contingency plan, and we invited feedback from all physicians. You can see our original message from Friday for more details

The response has been overwhelming, with a clear signal that physicians are particularly worried about the lack of transparency and/or lack of planning about physicians coverage to support surge capacity in hospitals. How will 100+ more ICU beds be covered? Who will cover the hundreds more medicine and low acuity beds they may open? There were, of course, concerns about other parts of the plan, such as the need for improved engagement with physicians, the absence of ED in the capacity planning, and questions about the PPE use assumptions in the provincial planning. 

You can still send us your feedback, by emailing covid19@doctorsmanitoba.ca. We are working towards submitting physicians’ concerns and recommendations to Shared Health tomorrow. 

How is hospital capacity today? There are a record 192 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 28 in ICU. Even after opening eight more ICU beds over the last few weeks, there were only five beds available this morning. Shared Health reported that 80 of 85 ICU beds were full. Meanwhile, it was reported that 80% of Winnipeg medicine beds were occupied, and 65% of medicine beds outside of Winnipeg were occupied.  We have heard reports of Winnipeg ICU patients being transferred to Brandon.

To help free up space and staff to support an increase in COVID-19 admissions, hospitals are cancelling elective surgeries again. So far, 396 surgeries have been postponed. Today, they have started redeploying some surgical staff to be trained in other areas. 

Public Awareness Campaign
Doctors Manitoba is trying to help take the pressure off of hospitals with a new ad campaign that urges Manitobans to stay home and limit their contacts with others. In addition to our ads, our President Dr. Cory Baillie was interviewed by several radio, TV and print media outlets today. 

You can help spread the word — not the virus — by posting on your social media, or sharing our messages with Manitobans. Access our campaign images and suggested posts.  

Appreciation for Physicians

On Friday, Manitobans took to their doorsteps to bang a pot for docs. Our staff joined in, enthusiastically making some noise to show how much we appreciate everything you are doing right now to protect the health of Manitobans. 

Joeys Restaurants wants to say thank you to physicians for your dedication during COVID-19 with a special exclusive menu. While the restaurant is closed to dine-in, they are offering curb-side takeout with a special discount for physicians. They are open seven days a week until 11PM at both the Kenaston and Polo Park locations. You can order by calling the Kenaston location at 204-477-5639 or the Polo Park location at 204-339-5639. Please mention you are a physician when you order to obtain the discounted pricing. The offer in effect until November 30, 2020.