COVID-19 Update – December 14

Situation Update

Since our last update on Friday, 872 new cases of COVID-19 have been identified, including 241 today. This brings the total case count in Manitoba to 21,264.

The five-day test positivity rate is 13.6%, down slightly from from 13.8%. In Winnipeg, the test positivity rate is 13%.

There are currently 5,791 active cases today, up from 5,517 yesterday. This includes 303 infectious patients in hospital, and 39 in ICU.

Thirty-four more COVID-related deaths have been identified since Friday, including nine today. So far, 499 Manitobans have died from COVID-19.

You can learn more in today‚Äôs public health bulletin.

The health system continues to struggle with the impact of COVID-19. Shared Health confirmed a total of 386 COVID-related hospitalizations, including 303 active cases and 83 patients who are no longer infectious but are still recovering and require medical care.

In November, it appears about 2,750 surgeries were postponed based on comparing volumes this November with the same month last year. This is in addition to the 7,000 cancelled procedures last spring.

There are 16 outbreaks in 10 hospitals today. There are also outbreaks in 49 personal care homes.

Vaccine Roll Out

In advance of the immunization clinic opening this Wednesday, a phone line opened on Saturday to book appointments for the initial eligible group of health care workers.

The phone system was quickly overwhelmed and we heard from dozens and dozens of physicians who had a frustrating weekend unable to get through to book an appointment. The province reported that the phone line received over 100,000 calls in the first day. There are enough doses in this initial shipment to immunize only 900 individuals this month.

As of early this afternoon, appointments were still available but officials expect those slots to be full by the end of today or early tomorrow.

Eligible health care workers include those who have direct contact with patients and work in:

  • Critical care units, born on or before December 31, 1970;
  • Acute care facilities, born on or before December 31, 1960;
  • Long term care facilities, born on or before December 31, 1960; or
  • COVID-19 immunization clinics.

Physicians reported that the line was busy and when they eventually got through, they waited on hold and were then disconnected only to repeat the process. One 65-year old rural physician complained “I have phoned 120 times without success.”

Another 64-year old physician described the experience as “luck of the draw” after spending eight hours trying to get through. Another described the system as “useless” before adding that “after a while I just gave up.”

We have raised these serious concerns with provincial officials.

Officials explained today that some callers seemed to be less than honest on the automated eligibility screening and then took up time with operators who had to repeat the screening in more detail. They also said this was the first weekend, and they will make adjustments for the next round of appointments.

Isolation Support

We learned today that 83 health care workers tested positive last week, including two physicians. So far, 1,348 health care workers have tested positive.

Whether you’ve tested positive or if you’ve had to isolate due to COVID symptoms or a work-related exposure, you can now apply for a COVID-19 Isolation Support benefit.

Since opening the application process on Thursday, over 40 have been received. The first isolation support payments should be deposited next week.

If you’ve had to isolate, learn more about the new COVID-19 Isolation Support benefit, including who is eligible and how to apply. 

Watch Physicians for Physicians on Demand!

You can now watch Physicians for Physicians on demand, when you want and where you want.

Last week, 785 people tuned in to watch Physicians for Physicians, our special pandemic virtual event. This included over 650 from all corners of Manitoba, as well as colleagues from across Canada and even viewers in Australia, Columbia, Finland, France, Israel and the US!  Dr. Michael Boroditsky was a terrific host for the evening, and unlike the Oscars our event wrapped up ahead of schedule.

See a recap of the event and watch on your own time now, to see our seven award winners and also how the pandemic has impacted doctors. You’ll also hear a series of messages of appreciation for everything physicians are doing right now.