In today’s message:

Situation Update

Since yesterday:

  • Daily cases remain alarmingly high: 594 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed today, slightly lower than yesterday’s record 603 cases. The total case count in Manitoba now stands at 47,504.
  • Test positivity up again: the five-day test positivity rate is 14.1%, up from 13.8%. It is 16.1% in Winnipeg, up from 15.3%.
  • Active cases up: There are 4,855 active COVID-19 cases province-wide, up from 4,659.
  • Hospitalizations remain high: There are 296 people in hospital due to COVID-19, up from 291. This includes 79 people in ICU, up slightly from 76. There are also five patients transferred to Ontario hospitals. 
  • Three new deaths related to COVID-19 were identified today. The total number of deaths is now 1,022.

Tonight at midnight, new restrictions come into effect for the long weekend that ban all types of gatherings with other households, and limit visitors to businesses to one per household. 

Vaccine Second Doses

Manitobans can start booking their second dose vaccine appointments today, starting first with those who have high risk medical conditions. We have updated ManitobaVac​cine​.ca with information about second dose eligibility. 

On Monday at 11:45am, Indigenous Manitobans will be able to start booking their second doses. 

After this, it is anticipated that people will become eligible to book their second dose based on the date they received their first dose. 

Hospital Update

There are 129 patients in ICUs in Manitoba today, including 79 linked to COVID-19. In addition, there are now five patients who have been transferred to northwestern Ontario hospitals.

Today, Shared Health reported that they have space for 140 beds available, including making use of a hybrid adult/​pediatric ICU at HSC. They also reported that protocols are in place to continue transferring stable COVID ICU patients to five Ontario hospitals in Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, North Bay and Kenora. Up to 20 patients could be sent to Ontario. Discussions are also underway for contingency plans to send patients to Saskatchewan and North Dakota. 

Dr. Jazz Atwal today responded to questions about why there are so many admissions when more Manitobans are being vaccinated. He explained that of 85 ICU admissions between May 1 and 16, 16% had one dose of vaccine but they got their positive test result less than 14 days after their first dose.

Our Appeal for Urgent Action is Heard 

Yesterday, we called on the province to take urgent action, including appealing for help from other provinces or the military to support overwhelmed ICUs and ERs. Physicians identified nursing coverage as the top issue.

Earlier today, Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman joined our call for action. He asked the Prime Minister to send help. 

Later today, Premier Brian Pallister requested support from the federal government. His request includes 50 critical care nurses and 20 respiratory therapists. Shared Health has indicated these staff would be used at HSC, Grace, and St. Boniface hospitals. 

We do not yet know when this help will arrive, but we will be monitoring the situation closely over the long weekend. 

We know many physicians will be frustrated that the situation has reached this point, especially after we submitted recommendations to Shared Health last November on this very issue. As our President, Dr. Kristjan Thompson said on CBC National News this afternoon, there will be ample time in the future to review how decision-makers let this happen, but right now we are all focused on responding to the current situation so patients get the care they need. 

Surgery Disruptions Again

More elective and non-urgent surgeries are being canceled, to free up resources to support the surge in COVID-19 admissions. 

Surgery capacity was already reduced at Grace, St. Boniface and HSC, and we’re now aware that plans are in place to cancel more elective slates at Concordia, Misericordia, Victoria and Pan Am Clinic.

Shared Health Chief Nursing Officer Lanette Siragusa said today that we did not want to decrease surgery, but we had to,” explaining the resources are needed to help with the COVID-19 hospital surge. 

Their priority is to continue cancer, cardiac, trauma and other emergency cases. 

Doctors Manitoba has been monitoring this situation closely. We know the disruptions to surgical procedures is a major concern for physicians. We have been studying the issue and working on recommendations to address the growing backlog. You’ll hear more on this in the next few weeks.

Clinics Not Limited to 10% Occupancy

Some of our members practicing in private medical clinics have reported visits by COVID inspection officers. These inspectors are empowered to ensure businesses are complying with current public health orders. On at least two occasions, these inspectors have given physicians incorrect information that their clinic is limited to 10% capacity. This capacity limit is in place, but for retail settings.

We have raised our concerns with Manitoba Health, and have been advised that further education is being provided to make sure inspectors understand the application of the orders. In the meantime, we remind you of the current requirements for private medical clinics:

  • Everyone working in, or visiting, at a medical clinic must wear a mask. Exceptions are limited to children under the age of 5, those unable to wear a mask due to a medical condition, or a physical inability to don/​doff masks. Of course, patients can remove masks as required for medical purposes.
  • Your clinic is not limited to 10% capacity. This retail capacity limit does not apply to medical clinics.
  • You should continue to ensure you are in compliance with Shared Health’s directions and meeting standards required by the College.
  • Clinics are directed by Shared Health to maintain social distancing. Wherever possible, that means providing space for two metres between people, like in waiting rooms, unless in the same immediate family. 
  • The retail capacity” of 10% in the Order does not apply to medical clinics.

Should you receive a visit from an inspector who provides different information, please ask them to provide the section of the Public Health Order they are relying upon, and request their name. Forward the information to us at covid19@​doctorsmanitoba.​ca and we will review your situation. If further educational or corrective action regarding inspection officers seems necessary, we will advise Manitoba Health immediately on your behalf.

35 Things We CAN We Do This Weekend!

With everything going on right now, if you have time off of work it’s a good weekend to recharge.
But what can we do this weekend? The public health advice says stay home this weekend as much as possible. Public health orders prohibit outdoor gatherings with other households. Even if we could leave our home, the province of Manitoba has issued a strict fire ban and back-country travel ban in Southern Manitoba (south of the 53rd parallel) and the Ontario/​Manitoba border remains closed. 

Here’s a list of 35 stay-at-home ideas from the team at Doctors Manitoba:

  1. Have your children join the Artful Owl for a free live art class Saturday morning at 10 a.m. – recommended for ages 5+
  2. Cheer on your Winnipeg Jets on Friday at 8pm, Sunday at 6:30pm and Monday at 8:45pm
  3. Buy a game from a local game store like Game Knightt and have a family game night
  4. Do an online Escape Room
  5. Attend the virtual Manito Ahbee PowWow
  6. Watch one of MTC’s Tiny Plays, Big Ideas
  7. View the International Indigenous Hip Hop Awards Show
  8. Watch Stand! — the #1 Canadian movie musical shot entirely in Winnipeg
  9. Take a nostalgic musical trip on May 23 with the Winnipeg Folk Fest’s Dwayne Gretzky – 99 Songs Telethon
  10. Attend a virtual Mom Retreat May 2122 
  11. Take free music lessons with the West End Cultural Centre
  12. Take some gardening lessons
  13. Attend the MET Opera
  14. Send in your application to be on Canada’s Family Feud
  15. Watch zoo animals across Canada at the various live events
  16. Do a science experiment with the kids 
  17. Take a virtual tour of the International Space Station
  18. Have a virtual visit to museums around the world or at our very own Canadian Museum of Human Rights
  19. Tour Egyptian Heritage Sites virtually
  20. Watch your toddler(s) do a virtual yoga class
  21. Join your kids and author and artist Mo Willems for online doodling videos
  22. View animals in the wild on live cams all over the world
  23. Take a virtual visit to Disney World (and maybe plan a future family trip)
  24. Book a private virtual Magic Lesson
  25. Play a virtual game of chess with a loved one anywhere in the world
  26. Start learning a new language in anticipation of travel again some day
  27. Participate in virtual tourism from this list of amazing places worldwide or this one
  28. Start or rekindle a hobby with this list of 5 hobbies for busy physicians
  29. Have a family sing-along/karaōke night while gathered around a wi-fi enabled connection
  30. Declutter and organize, the Marie Kondo way and donate your unneeded items to a worthy organization like Big Bothers Big Sisters, Centre Flavie-Laurent or Willow Place.
  31. Wash your car as a family
  32. Make a time capsule
  33. Have a safe, covered back yard fire if the restrictions for municipal burning in your area allow
  34. Build a ladybug house
  35. View artwork from Manitoba’s Medical students at the virtual Max Rady Art Show