COVID-19 Update – February 4, 2021

Situation Update

Since our update yesterday, 110 new cases of COVID-19 have been identified. This brings the total case count in Manitoba to 29,968.

The five-day test positivity rate is 6.7%, down from 6.9% Yesterday. It is 3.6% in Winnipeg, down from 3.9%.

There are currently 3,340 active COVID-19 cases province-wide, down slightly from 3,358. Officials have noted this may be overstated as cases have not been marked as recovered.

There are currently 264 patients in hospital today related to COVID-19, up slightly from 260 on Monday. This includes 36 patients in ICU.

Two more deaths related to COVID-19 have been identified. A total of 837 Manitobans have died due to COVID-19.

You can learn more in today’s public health bulletin.

The province has also launched a new dashboard to monitor the COVID situation in schools.The data shows there have been 60 in the last 14 days, including 49 student cases and 11 among staff. There are 47 schools with one or more cases out of over 800 in the province. Only one school is listed as having an outbreak, the Wapanohk Community School in Thompson.

Easing Restrictions – Your Views

With gradual improvements on most COVID surveillance indicators, and current restrictions set to expire next Friday, the province proposed easing a number of restrictions. Feedback from the public is being sought to help officials make a final decision next week.

Doctors Manitoba is again asking for physicians’ advice about the proposed changes, which we will submit to provincial officials. Feedback from over 500 physicians last month was submitted to officials, and the resulting changes to restrictions in January were very consistent with your views.

You can share your views on the province’s proposed changes here. Please submit your views by Sunday, February 7, 2021.

Dr. Brent Roussin shared the proposed changes, noting they may change based on public openness to the changes and the ongoing surveillance of COVID-19. The changes proposed include:

  • Restaurants to reopen at 25 per cent capacity, limiting patron groups of household members;
  • Personal services, including nail salons and tattoo parlours, to reopen at 25 per cent capacity with safety protocols in place;
  • Gyms to reopen at 25 per cent capacity for one-on-one and individual training sessions with adequate physical distancing, but no group classes;
  • Places of worship to reopen at a maximum of 10 per cent capacity or 50 people, whichever is lower;
  • Libraries to reopen at a maximum of 25 per cent capacity, limited to patron groups of household members;
  • Outdoor sports to resume for organized games or practices (no multi-team tournaments);
  • Clarifying that addictions support and treatment groups can operate with adequate physical distancing measures in place;
  • The film industry to resume work, with safety protocols in place;
  • Public washrooms to reopen with 25 per cent capacity and enhanced signage;
  • Weddings can now have up to 10 people in addition to the officiant and photographer; and
  • Photographers to resume outdoors, or in-studio but limited to parties from the same household only.

The changes would see all parts of the province fall under the same restrictions, including Northern Manitoba.

Share your views about the changes, along with the vaccine rollout, before this Sunday (February 7). You can see the full details about the proposed changes in a provincial news release.

Review into Maples PCH Released

The province released an independent review into the COVID-19 outbreak at Maples Personal Care Home today. The PCH had an outbreak that lasted nearly three months, with 74 staff and 157 residents testing positive for COVID-19. Fifty-six deaths were linked to the outbreak.

The review found that Maples, and parent company Revera, had a robust COVID playbook in place, but the contributing factors to the outbreak included significant staffing shortages in care and housekeeping, inconsistent cleaning, and insufficient on-site infection control expertise. Early on, provincial officials recommended limiting physical visits to PCHs by physicians. 

The independent reviewer makes 17 recommendations aimed not only at Maples and Revera, but also the WRHA, COVID incident command structure and Manitoba Health. These recommendations include mobilizing more resources during an outbreak, including initiating daily onsite physician rounds immediately when an outbreak is declared. Other recommendations suggest improvements to communication, more RHA support for PCHs, clearer decision-making roles, and funding a province-wide response for pandemic outbreaks.
Doctors Manitoba heard from many physicians last year who provide PCH medical coverage, concerned about the level of preparedness for facility outbreaks including the need for a plan for enhanced medical coverage during an outbreak.

We helped identify physicians willing to help with PCH medical coverage in November, and issued a series of recommendations on November 10. It wasn’t until November 26, however, that a medical coverage remuneration model was finalized by the province to support enhanced medical coverage.
You can access the independent review report on the provincial government website.

Black History Month

February is Black History Month, a time to reflect on the contributions of people of African and Caribbean descent to Canada’s history and culture. Doctor’s Manitoba recognizes and appreciates the significant contribution of Black Physicians to the medical community in Manitoba. We commend you for your accomplishments in the face of cultural and ethnic barriers.

Studies have shown that diversity in a patient’s health care team directly relates to better health care outcomes. We are thankful for a diverse membership that contributes to the health and well-being of patients.

Black Physicians of Canada continues its work to “peel back the layers on the systemic and institutional racism facing Black Canadians, and in particular, Black physicians and trainees.” They will host an online summit on Sunday, February 28, 2021. Register for this free event here.

Rural Medicine and the Pandemic

Rural Manitoba has been impacted by the pandemic in unique ways, with smaller hospitals and communities finding themselves particularly vulnerable to smaller surges in cases.

Learn more about COVID in small rural communities through the experience of Dr. Danielle Paradis, a rural practitioner working in Ste. Rose du Lac in the Prairie Mountain health region. Between stretched resources and small town creativity, find out how Dr. Paradis and her colleagues braced for, and then responded, to a surge in cases.

Read the full story.