COVID-19 Update — May 3, 2021
In today’s message you will find:
- COVID situation update
- Vaccine update
- A thank you from our CEO
- AGM Information
- Doctors working at Vaccine Super Sites
Since our last update on Friday, most COVID surveillance indicators have held steady or increased:
- Daily cases up: Another 795 new cases of COVID-19 have been identified, including 251 today. This brings the total case count in Manitoba to 39,524.
- Test positivity up: The five-day test positivity rate is 8%, up from 7.2%. It is 8.7% in Winnipeg, up from to 8.2%.
- Active cases up: There are 2,593 active COVID-19 cases province-wide, up from our last report of 2,375.
- Hospitalizations increasing: There are 178 people in hospital due to COVID-19, up from 149 on Friday. This includes 45 people in ICU, up from 39 on Friday.
- Five new deaths related to COVID-19 were identified, including one reported today linked to a variant of concern. The total number of deaths is 979.
The hospital situation is escalating as well. About half of all COVID-related hospitalizations are under the age of 60. There are a total of 106 people in ICU today, including cases unrelated to COVID-19. This is well above the pre-pandemic critical care capacity in the province of 71. We have heard reports today that surgeries at St. Boniface have or will be canceled to preserve capacity and resources for a surge in admissions.
Dr. Brent Roussin sent a strong message today to Manitobans, urging them to stay home. He pointed out that there were more new cases in the month of April than in the month of October last year, as seen below in the graph of daily new cases. Dr. Roussin explained today that most spread is happening primarily in social situations, but also in some places of worship, workplaces and schools. He also issued an open letter to all Manitobans.
While the situation escalates, the constitutionality of existing public health orders is being challenged. Later this week, Dr. Roussin and others will be defending these orders in court. Last month, at a Doctors Manitoba town hall with hundreds of physicians, Dr. Roussin explained that a lot of spread was happening “outside” of the existing public health orders, signaling that non-compliance with current restrictions was increasingly leading to more spread.
Rare Flu Cases Discovered in Manitoba
On Friday, public health announced that two separate cases of variant influenza viruses have been found in two unrelated individuals in different communities in southern Manitoba. One is a case of human influenza A(H1N2)v and one is a case of human influenza A(H1N1)v. The two cases are related to influenza viruses that circulate in pigs.
Two cases appear to be isolated, and not linked to each other.
The cases were detected in early April after two individuals sought COVID-19 testing for influenza-like illnesses. Investigations are ongoing, the current assessment is that there is no increased risk to Manitobans, Canadians or the food supply chain at this time. Both individuals had direct or indirect exposures to pigs.
Anyone who works with pigs or poultry, has influenza-like symptoms and is seeking testing or treatment is reminded to identify themselves as an agricultural worker to medical officials including at COVID-19 testing sites. This will help to identify any potential additional influenza cases.
You can read more about the situation in this public health bulletin.
Today, the government expanded eligibility for the vaccine to all Indigenous Peoples who are age 18 or older. This includes First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples.
The eligibility for AstraZeneca, however, does not change. Any Indigenous person age 40 and over, or age 30 and over with a high-risk medical condition, can access the vaccine in a medical clinic. Indigenous individuals who do not meet the general AstraZeneca eligibility cannot get their shot in a medical clinic or pharmacy. They must attend a super site, pop up clinic or urban Indigenous vaccine clinic.
As of today, 38.7% of Manitoba adults (or 28.4% of all Manitobans) have received at least one dose, up from 30.0% on Friday.
After hearing Friday that Manitoba was expecting about 11,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson this week, the federal government has paused distribution to assess the quality control concerns raised about the manufacturing plant in the U.S.
Meanwhile, the National Advisory Committee on Immunizations released its recommendations today on the use of the J&J vaccine in Canada. The new guidance is similar to updated advice for the use of AstraZeneca, suggesting the single-dose vaccine can be used with individuals age 30 and up without contraindications, if the benefits outweigh the risks for the individual. The Johnson & Johnson shot, or Janssen, is a viral vector vaccine, like the AstraZeneca product. Also like this product, a very rare side effect has been identified called VITT, or Vaccine-Induced Immune Thrombotic Thrombocytopenia.
NACI also recommended using the vaccine with populations that are harder to schedule for second doses.
Manitoba has not yet commented on these new recommendations.
You can view the NACI recommendations here.
Thank You, from Theresa
Saturday marked National Physicians’ Day and Manitobans showed their gratitude and support for doctors in a myriad of ways. Doctors Manitoba encouraged people to take to their doorsteps at 7PM on Saturday to bang #PotsForDocs, inspired by a grassroots campaign during the second wave last fall. Manitobans embraced the call and social media was abuzz with posts showing support. Here is a sampling of some of the sentiments shared by Manitobans.
There truly aren’t enough words or sentiments to convey just how valuable Manitoba’s physicians have been in these last 15 months. The staff here at Doctors Manitoba see the hard work and dedication of our members but we also see the toll it is taking. In these unspeakably difficult times, you have gone above and beyond to ensure that Manitobans are safe and healthy. You have been advocates for your patients’ needs and you have done it all with courage and commitment.
From all of us here: Thank you.
AGM, Keynote and Awards This Thursday
A reminder to join us this Thursday at 6PM for our Annual General Meeting. You can register now for what will be an exciting event that includes a keynote speaker from Stanford University, the unveiling of our 2021 award winners, and important updates from our outgoing and incoming Presidents! We have added the agenda (order of business), motion for the rules of order and the CMA corporate update online for you to view as well.
At our AGM this year, you will:
- Hear from Dr. Tait Shanafelt, a global thought-leader on physician wellness who leads WellMD at Stanford University
- Be the first to learn who has won a 2021 Doctors Manitoba award. We will still plan an awards gala this fall to celebrate, but you won’t want to miss the unveiling of this very impressive group of honourees!
- Receive an update from our Board on how Doctors Manitoba has been growing to respond to your priorities, and see our new President take office.
Doctors Working at Vaccine Super Sites
While we continue to press for more vaccine doses for doctors offices, today we publicly announced the important role doctors are also playing at the government’s vaccine super sites in Winnipeg.
Many individuals require medical guidance or screening before agreeing to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, due to specific health issues, medications or allergies. The Doctors Manitoba physician team is providing this service, while also supporting super-site staff with clinical questions that arise. Coverage is now in place at the RBC Convention Centre location and will also be in place at the Leila location when it opens May 7.
“Physicians want to do whatever we can to support Manitobans in accessing COVID-19 vaccines, whether that is at a doctor’s office or by supporting the provincial vaccine super sites,” said Dr. Cory Baillie, president, Doctors Manitoba.“Getting a vaccine is a personal decision, and doctors can offer trusted advice and guidance about personal health concerns to support Manitobans in making an informed decision. Over 95 percent of physicians have already been vaccinated, which demonstrates the trust we have in the safety and effectiveness of all of the COVID-19 vaccines approved in Canada.”
At the request of the Vaccine Implementation Task Force, Doctors Manitoba has led the recruitment of the physician team, and will oversee scheduling and payroll. Over 170 physicians have applied to cover shifts into early September.
You can read more here.