In today’s e‑newsletter for physicians, you will find:

Situation Update

COVID-19 Surveillance Update

Since our last update on Thursday:

  • Daily cases steady but high: Another 597 new cases of COVID-19 have been identified, including 108 today. This brings the total case count in Manitoba to 36,267.
  • Test positivity up: The five-day test positivity rate is 5.7%, up from 5.3%. It is also 5.7% in Winnipeg, up from 5.1% last Thursday.
  • Active cases up: There are 1,685 active COVID-19 cases province-wide, up from our last report of 1,528.
  • Hospitalization steady: There are 132 people in hospital, down from 137 last Thursday. This includes 30 people in ICU, down from 35.
  • Four new deaths related to COVID-19 were identified, though there were none reported today. The total number of deaths is 959.

While no new data is available on variants of concern today, Dr. Roussin did report today that two thirds of Winnipeg cases are VOCs. This is part of why new restrictions are being introduced to slow the spread (see below).

Vaccine Situation Update

  • Vaccine eligibility was expanded to age 40+ in medical clinics and pharmacies offering AstraZeneca, and age 54+ (or 34+ for First Nations) in provincial vaccine clinics.
  • 341,962 doses have been administered, up from 308,576 on Thursday.
  • 25.3% of Manitoba adults have received their first vaccination, up from 22.3%

Doctors Manitoba continues to maintain two important vaccine resources:

  • For physicians: Our Vaccine Resource Centre includes resources and information, including sample patient messaging, a billing guide, a vaccine hesitancy guide and more.
  • For your patients: Our public vaccine hub, Man​i​to​baVac​cine​.ca, continues to offer your patients answers to common vaccine questions, including when individuals will become eligible.

Important Vaccine Updates

There were several significant developments on COVID-19 vaccines today.

First, the government changed eligibility for AstraZeneca vaccine to age 40 and over. High-risk medical conditions were eliminated from being prioritized, though doctors are encouraged to continue prioritizing patients they determine are at increased risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19.
The change came this morning and is effective immediately. As of earlier today, only 30 of the nearly 180 clinics participating were accepting appointments.

The limiting factor for most clinics is a lack of vaccine supply.

Doctors Manitoba has been advocating to get more vaccine into clinics, so physicians can reach more patients and offer protection against COVID-19.

Doctors Manitoba released a report today that reveals the magnitude of vaccine hesitancy in Manitoba, and how that hesitancy is a significant barrier to achieving herd immunity. The research found that Manitobans are more likely to get immunized if the vaccines were more readily available in doctors’ offices.

The key findings from report include:

  • Nearly 9 in 10 Manitobans (88%) would rather receive their vaccine in a doctor’s office than a super site or pop-up site.
  • Over two thirds of physicians (68%) are worried Manitoba won’t reach herd immunity.
  • Over a quarter of adults (26%) are vaccine hesitant, which means Manitoba is on a path to fall short of herd immunity right now.
  • 88% of physicians and 83% of Manitobans believe the provincial vaccine rollout is taking too long.

The COVID-19 vaccines are a way out of this pandemic, but right now it appears as though not enough Manitobans are planning on getting immunized,” cautioned Dr. Cory Baillie, President of Doctors Manitoba. There is reason for hope, he noted:

  • Nearly half (44%) of vaccine hesitant Manitobans indicated that they would be more likely to get the shot if it were given in a doctor’s office.
  • 95% of physicians have already received at least one dose of the vaccine, demonstrating the trust doctors have in the safety and effectiveness of these vaccines
  • 80% Manitobans agree the vaccines approved in Canada are safe.

Because of the trust doctors have built with patients, they can play a vital role in supporting Manitobans who still have questions or concerns about the new vaccines,” noted Dr. Baillie.

The research report helps to understand vaccine hesitancy in Manitoba. The top reasons for hesitancy include concerns about side effects and worry the vaccines were rushed. Doctors are well-positioned to discuss these concerns with patients, and they have created Man​i​to​baVac​cine​.ca as a resource with answers from physicians to common vaccine questions from the public.

View our news release here where you can also access the full report.

Urban Locum Pilot Program

Research has shown that not taking time away from practice contributes significantly to physician stress and burnout.

Now, there’s one more option to help physicians get time away while ensuring coverage for their patients.

The new Urban Locum Pilot Project, a joint initiative between Shared Health, Manitoba Locum Tenens Program and Doctors Manitoba launched today, modeled after the rural and northern program.

New-to-practice physicians, those wanting to work fewer hours nearing the end of their career and physicians looking for more hours can apply to be a Locum Physician in the new urban pilot or the existing rural and northern program.

Interested in being a Locum Physician anywhere in Manitoba? Click here.

To have your practice covered while you are away, click here.

New Public Health Restrictions

Dr. Brent Roussin and Premier Brian Pallister announced new public health restrictions today. Based on COVID-19 surveillance, increasing test positivity rates, and increasing transmission of variants of concern, the new public health orders are designed to slow the spread of the virus and avoid the magnitude of the third wave seen now in Ontario.

The new orders take effect tonight at midnight and include:

  • Limiting households to only having two designated visitors indoors. Previously, households also had the option to visit with an entire designated household. 
  • Limiting outdoor gatherings on private and public property to 10 people, including the hosting household on private property.
  • Limiting faith-based gatherings to 25% capacity or 50 people, whichever is lower.
  • Reducing capacity for weddings and funerals to 10 people, in addition to the officiant and photographer

Additional restrictions will take effect starting Wednesday to limit retail capacity to one third or 333 patrons, whichever is lower. This is a decrease from 50% capacity or 500 patrons. 

We know many physicians are concerned about the public health orders and the emerging third wave. In a recent survey of physicians, we found:

  • 85% of members are somewhat or very worried about a third pandemic wave.
  • 84% are afraid someone close to them will contract COVID-19.
  • Physicians had varied views about whether restrictions were appropriate (51%), too loose (32%), or too tight (13%). It’s important to remember this survey started in early April. 

You can hear more from Dr. Roussin at a town hall Doctors Manitoba has planned this Thursday at 6:30PM. Learn more and register here.

Webinar Reminders

There are three pandemic-related webinars coming up that we encourage all physicians to attend.

COVID-19 Town Hall with Dr. Roussin

Join Dr. Brent Roussin and Board President, Dr. Cory Ballie for a town hall exclusively for physicians, hosted by Doctors Manitoba. Dr. Roussin will share a complete update on the pandemic situation for physicians and take questions as well. You can ask questions during the webinar or you can submit questions in advance during your registration.

This timely update will include:

  • Current epidemiology
  • What we know about the variants of concern in Manitoba
  • Public health measures
  • What the future may bring
  • Q&A

Webinar Town Hall with Dr. Brent Roussin
When: Thursday, April 22, 6:30pm to 7:30pm
Register: Click here to register

Vaccine Webinar with Dr. Joss Reimer

Join us next Monday, April 26 for a town hall about the COVID-19 vaccines with provincial Medical Lead with the Vaccine Implementation Task Force, Dr. Joss Reimer.

Learn more about the rollout, the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, and get an official update directly from Dr. Reimer. A Q&A session for physicians’ concerns and questions will follow. You can submit questions in advance during the registration process. Live questions will also be accepted during the webinar.

Webinar Town Hall with Dr. Joss Reimer
When: Monday, April 26 at 6:30PM
Register: Click here to register

PHAC Webinar on VITT (formerly VIPIT)

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), Thrombosis Canada, and the National Collaborating Center for Infectious Diseases (NCCID) is presenting a webinar to inform health care providers on the treatment and reporting of Vaccine-induced Immune Thrombotic Thrombocytopenia (VITT).

Objectives of the webinar:

  • To provide an overview of Vaccine-induced Immune Thrombotic Thrombocytopenia (VITT)
  • To inform health care providers on clinical guidance for treatment of VITT
  • To give health care providers information on how to report VITT

English session:

Wednesday, April 21: 1:30 – 2pm, EDT
Moderator: Dr. Marina Salvadori, Public Health Agency of Canada
Presenter: Dr. Menaka Pai
Register: Click here

French Session:

Friday, April 23: 1:30 – 2pm EDT
French Moderator: to be determined
Presenter: Dr. Marc Carrier
Register: Click here

The webinars will be recorded and available on the NCCID website immediately following each event.

For any registration difficulties, please contact NCCID: nccid@​umanitoba.​ca

Cancer Referral Contact Changes

The Provincial Cancer Referral and Navigation Services (PCRN) team has moved to 825 Sherbrook Street (R3A 1M5). The new phone number for the Central Referral office is 18443204545 the fax number remains the same: 2047860621. The phone and fax numbers for Winnipeg Navigation remain as follows: Phone: 18558375400 | Fax: 2042350690

To view previous updates click here.