COVID-19 Update-May 20, 2021
- Record daily cases: 603 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed today, a new record. Total case count in Manitoba now stands at 43,916.
- Test positivity increasing: the five-day test positivity rate is 13.8%, up from 13.5%. It is 15.3% in Winnipeg, up from 15.1%.
- Active cases up: There are 4659 active COVID-19 cases province-wide, up from 4,550.
- Hospitalizations remain high: There are 291 people in hospital due to COVID-19, down slightly from 293. This includes 76 people in ICU, down slightly from 80.
- Three new deaths related to COVID-19 were identified. The total number of deaths is now 1,019.
The areas with the largest number of active cases include:
- All community areas in Winnipeg, particularly Downtown and Seven Oaks, with over 450 cases each, River East with 421 cases and Fort Garry with 401.
- Pine Falls/Powerview with 115 cases
- Brandon with 112 cases
- Winkler with 104 cases
ICU and ER Situation
Manitoba’s ICUs and ERs continue to be strained by a surge in admissions. We heard yesterday about three patients sent to Thunder Bay for care. Today, we have heard plans are in place to send as many as 20 patients to northwestern Ontario.
Today we submitted a report to Shared Health and the government calling for urgent action now to support ICUs and ERs. The report reflects the views of over 50 critical care and Winnipeg emergency physicians from a rapid survey we conducted earlier this week.
A strong message from physicians is that nursing coverage in both ICUs and ERs is their top concern. Nurses in these areas need specialized extensive training, and there was a shortage before the pandemic. Expanding capacity to keep up with rapidly increasing patient demand is a major challenge. Because local options have largely been exhausted, like recruiting retired or former ICU nurses, physicians identified the most promising solutions include appealing to other provinces for help, or calling in the military for medical assistance. Earlier today, Premier Pallister was asked about these options by journalists and he said he has not been in touch with other premiers for over a week.
Physicians are also distressed by the lack of contingency planning, or lack of information about plans if they exist:
- 98% are concerned hospitals aren’t ready to accommodate the third wave surge in patients
- 93% of physicians indicate they do not have enough information about the plans
- 90% are worried that patients won’t get the care they need, based on the information they have about hospital capacity plans.
We have repeatedly called for health officials to involve physicians in contingency planning and share their plans.
You can read our full submission here.
ICUs were caring for 125 patients today, down slightly from the record high of 131 patients yesterday. 76 of them were linked to COVID-19 infections, down slightly from 80 yesterday.
As Manitoba logged its highest number of new daily cases today, and hospitals are pushed past their limits, new restrictions were announced today.
Earlier today, the Premier noted that past long weekends have been followed by a spike in cases, so additional measures are needed to avoid this. Late this afternoon, Dr. Roussin was left to announce the new restrictions. The changes, which start at 12:01am on Saturday, include::
- Outdoor gatherings will now be limited to just your household, including places like playgrounds, parks, golf courses, and other areas. Previously, outdoor gatherings in public places were limited to five people, but could include multiple households.
- Only one person per household will be allowed to enter a business
The orders, designed to prevent May long weekend gatherings, will be in effect until 12:01AM on Wednesday, May 26, at the earliest.
Dr. Roussin stressed, in the strongest possible terms, that people should stay home as much as possible and only go out for essential reasons. He urged Manitobans to make an “immediate” and “dramatic shift” in our actions, because cases keep rising despite Manitoba having among the strictest restrictions in Canada.
Compliance with health orders, by some Manitobans, has been an ongoing concern over the last several weeks. While some transmission is difficult to pinpoint, social gatherings outside of the existing public health orders continues to be a theme. We need to “end these transmission chains right now,” he added.
Minister Stefanson urged Manitobans to follow the public health advice. “Today we are urging everyone to hang on a little longer,” she said. She also urged Manitobans to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
Canada Catching Up on Vaccine Progress
After a relatively slow start, Canada is making progress on catching up to other countries on immunizing its citizens.
According to Oxford University’s Our World in Data tracker, Canada is virtually tied with the US with between 47% and 58% of people who have received at least one dose. Chile, the UK, Israel and some smaller countries are still ahead, but the gap as closed.
This has been achieved in Canada by delaying second doses. While Canada may be catching up on first doses, we still lag far behind on second doses, with under 4% of the population fully vaccinated. The US is at over 37%, while Chile has reached close to 40% and Israel leads at nearly 60% of its population.
Meanwhile, Manitoba is at about 44% of the entire population with at least one dose, and about 6% fully vaccinated. Second dose appointment bookings will resume in Manitoba tomorrow, starting with those who have high risk medical conditions. Manitoba expects to have enough vaccine to complete second shots for everyone who wants one (about 70% of eligible Manitobans) by the end of July.