COVID-19 Update-May 28, 2021
Situation Update — Manitoba surpasses 50,000 cases
Since our last update on Wednesday:
- Daily cases remain high: 788 new cases of COVID-19 have been identified. This includes 497 cases today, following a few days of lower daily case counts. The total case count in Manitoba now stands at 50,144.
- Test positivity down slightly: the five-day test positivity rate is 12.5%, down from 13.3%. It is 14.0% in Winnipeg, down from 15.0%.
- Active cases down slightly: There are 4,676 active COVID-19 cases province-wide, down from 4,792. This number is likely overstated as contact tracers focus on new cases and not updating patients’ status from active to recovered.
- Hospitalizations remain high: There are 312 people in Manitoba hospitals due to COVID-19, down from 318. This includes 69 people in Manitoba ICUs, down from 74, plus at least 27 in ICUs in Ontario and Saskatchewan, for a total of 96 Manitoban COVID-19 patients in ICUs.
- Eight new deaths were identified yesterday related to COVID-19, the highest number since January. No new deaths were identified today. The total number of deaths is now 1,044.
In Prairie Mountain, 80 new cases were reported today, a record high during the entire pandemic. The second highest day was in the summer, with 68 cases reported on August 22.
Restrictions Extended and Expanded
Yesterday, Dr. Brent Roussin and Premier Brian Pallister announced that public health orders would be extended and expanded. They cited our current epidemiology and the strain in our hospitals as key reasons to the changes. The new orders start tonight and remain in effect for at least two weeks.
The new orders extend several restrictions, including:
- No indoor or outdoor gatherings with other households, including in recreational areas or on private property, with few exceptions.
- Retail businesses remain at 10% capacity or 100 people, with only one person per household allowed to enter.
- Many other businesses and services remain closed for in-person service, including gyms and fitness clubs, restaurants and bars, personal service businesses, museums, galleries and libraries.
The new actions in the orders include
- Employers must allow staff to work from home wherever possible.
- Public health to close workplaces (e.g. factories, warehouses and offices) where there are multiple cases and risk of transmission.
- Malls must enforce capacity limits and ensure compliance with restrictions, following reports on the weekend that the public was using common areas in malls as gathering places.
The province has also extended remote learning for another week. In Winnipeg, Brandon, Red River Valley and Garden Valley school divisions remote learning remains in effect until June 7, and in Dauphin until June 9. The Premier explained the goal is to return students to in-class learning after these dates, if possible.
Dr. Roussin stressed, in very clear terms, that Manitobans should stay home right now and only go out for essential reasons. He urged Manitobans to avoid contact with individuals from other households. His advice to Manitobans is to not only follow the public health orders, which must be approved by the government, but to go even further to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“We need to stay home and work from home if possible, and only go out for essential items when absolutely necessary and do not gather with anyone outside your household,” Dr. Roussin urged. “We recognize the next few weeks will be tough, but our health system depends on all Manitobans doing their part.”
We’ve heard from many of you with concerns about public health orders. In particular, some who feel orders should go further, as well as others concerned about the impact of school closures on the physical and mental health and education of students. Please continue to send us your concerns by emailing us at email@example.com. We share them regularly with Dr. Roussin to ensure he and his team have the perspective of the medical community in his advice to government and his advice to Manitobans.
Over 800,000 doses have been administered so far in Manitoba, with 100,000 doses administered in the last 7 days alone. While the pace is picking up, delays with Moderna shipments will slow this down. Provincial officials had hoped to reach 70% of Manitobans age 12 and up with their first dose by June 9, but this was revised today to June 30. Their target to reach 70% with second doses by end of July remains unchanged. Manitoba will receive a shipment of Moderna next week, but no batch is coming the week after. We have requested that doses be shared with medical clinics to help reach more Manitobans with first doses.
There have also been reports of Manitobans canceling vaccine appointments when they learn they will get Moderna and not Pfizer. Doctors Manitoba has promoted that all vaccines are effective at preventing COVID-19 infections and, in particular, severe illness. Over 95% of physicians have been vaccinated, some with Moderna and others with Pfizer and AstraZeneca.
Second Dose Eligibility
Today, second dose appointment booking opened up for anyone who had their first dose of Pfizer or Moderna on or before April 3, 2021. We anticipate this will gradually expand over the next few weeks and nearly everyone should be able to get their second dose well within the maximum 16-week dose interval recommended by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization.
What about AstraZeneca?
There is still no update on the plans for AstraZeneca second doses. You can see our update from Wednesday for the latest info. Provincial public health officials are waiting for a UK study about the efficacy of mixing doses, and we understand they expect to issue guidance early next week, as well as information on how remaining AstraZeneca doses will be allocated.
This is a difficult situation for your patients and for physicians who offered first doses of AstraZeneca. We are monitoring this closely and we will share an update as soon as we have it.
It’s not unique to Manitoba, as countries around the world consider how to approach second doses for AstraZeneca following rare reports of VITT. Safety and effectiveness are both important considerations. In Ireland, for example, their national immunization advisory committee, or NIAC (their counterpart to our NACI) is considering recommending Pfizer or Moderna for second doses for those under 50. They recognize published evidence confirming the safety of “heterologous” vaccine schedules, mixing AstraZeneca and an mRNA vaccine for a second dose. Evidence on effectiveness is still pending.
Make a Difference for a Medical Learner
Everyone can remember a person in their life who had an impact on the trajectory of their career and in their learning journey. Mentors have a significant impact on medical learners.
You can give a medical learner a positive mentor experience by becoming a mentor in our Mentorship program. Learn more and register HERE.
We will be hosting a Mentor Orientation Webinar June 15 or 17 for new mentors. Make a difference in a medical learner’s journey today!
Are you looking for a new career opportunity, or to add some more hours to your schedule? Do you have an opportunity you want to share with other physicians? Doctors Manitoba is supporting both those looking for opportunities and those recruiting physicians.
Medical Lead - Doctors Manitoba is looking for a Medical Lead for our Physician Health & Wellness portfolio. This position has been created to provide strategic direction in the area of physician health and to provide individual and group based peer support in collaboration with the Physicians at Risk (PAR) program. Supported by the CEO, senior staff and a committed PHW Committee, the role is part time (8−12 hours per week). Please share it with others who might be a good fit for the position. Applications must be received by June 9, 2021.
Locum - The new Urban Locum Pilot Program is an opportunity for physicians who want to work in Winnipeg or Brandon to cover leaves in urban clinics. Want to see some of rural and northern Manitoba while gaining some new insight into how other physicians manage their clinics? The Manitoba Locum Tenens Program might be a good fit. You can learn about both locum programs here.
We hosted an Urban Locum Program Webinar on May 20. Here are some key takeaways:
- New Urban Program is a partnership between Doctors Manitoba and the Shared Health, Manitoba Locum Tenens Program (MLTP) which operates the current rural and northern program.
- Goal of the new urban pilot program is to improve physician health by providing opportunities for family physicians in Winnipeg and Brandon to take time off from their practice.
- A secondary goal is improve patient access to primary care by ensuring physicians are replaced if they take time off.
- The Urban Locum Program operates using fee-for-service remuneration. As such, it is incumbent on all parties (the host clinic and the physician providing locum service) to be attentive to the fee-for-service billing process.
- Claims should be submitted to Manitoba Health in a timely fashion following the delivery of service. The host clinic will work with the locum service provider to ensure that claims are submitted appropriately, in a timely fashion.
- Information regarding fee for service billing codes can be found in the Manitoba Physicians Manual. Additionally, Doctors Manitoba has resources available on it’s website, here that may be useful and questions may directed to Doctors Manitoba staff by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
- If you would like locum coverage between 1 – 17 weeks or would like to become a locum provider (in the urban and/or the rural and northern program) please register today!
Job Search Resources - You can find a listing of practice opportunities on our new website. Here you will find current postings sent to us by clinics, care homes, pharmacies and other organizations looking for physicians. On the page you can also post opportunities you might have at your practice. We post opportunities sent to us, but there are many other career resources available, both locally and out of province. You can find those resources on our Job Search Resources page.