In today’s message you will find:

COVID Surveillance Update

Serious Outcome Surveillance:

  • Hospitalizations up: There are 378 people in hospitals with COVID-19, up from 297 on Friday. The number in hospital has increased by 49% over the last week and it has doubled over the last two weeks. 
  • Daily hospital admissions up: There were 30 people admitted to hospital yesterday with COVID-19. Over the last week, the daily average is 32 admissions, up 45% from 22 per day the week before.
  • ICU census up: Of the hospitalizations reported above, 39 patients are in ICU, up from 34 on Friday. There were eight COVID-related ICU admissions yesterday alone. There are a total of 93 patients in ICUs, down 3 from Friday but still well-over the normal capacity of 82.
  • 19 more people have died from COVID-19. This brings the total COVID-19 related deaths to 1,427.

According to the COVID-19 Tracker Canada Project, Manitoba has 27.3 people people hospitalized with COVID-19 per 100,000, up from 21.5 on Friday. This is second only to Quebec, with 29.7 COVID hospitalizations per 100,000 residents.

Surveillance indicators (interpret with caution due to PCR testing prioritization):

  • Daily cases up high but steady: 7,083 new cases of COVID-19 have been identified since Friday, a daily average of 2,361. This includes 2,383 cases reported today. The total case count in Manitoba now stands at 101,933.
  • Test positivity up: The provincial five-day test positivity rate is 49%, up from 44.4% on Friday
  • Active cases jump: There are 31,618 active COVID-19 cases province-wide, up from 24,595 on Friday.

A reminder that daily cases are likely under-estimated and test positivity may be over-estimated as rapid test results are not counted in the provincial statistics. 

According to Health Canada’s tracking, Manitoba had 800 cases per 100,000 over the last seven days, down from 939 on Friday. Manitoba’s rate is second to Quebec, with (1,200 cases per 100,000), though comparing jurisdictions is becoming challenging as testing capacity is strained and prioritized in many provinces. 

COVID Town Hall for Physicians

Join us this Wednesday for an exclusive COVID-19 Update for Physicians, with Dr. Brent Roussin, Dr. Joss Reimer, Dr. Allen Kraut and Dr. Jose Francois.

Omicron has been a game changer, and we are hearing many of the same questions from physicians about what to expect, how effective the vaccines are, appropriate precautions to take in their work place, how to see and treat symptomatic patients, and what might come next in the pandemic. 

Doctors Manitoba has organized this town hall-style update with an expert panel, to provide physicians with important updates and to take your questions. The panel includes:

  • Dr. Brent Roussin, Chief Provincial Public Health Officer, who will provide an update on what to expect next with Omicron as well as updates on isolation requirements and testing. 
  • Dr. Joss Reimer, the Medical Lead for the Vaccine Implementation Task Force, to provide an update on the latest evidence about COVID-19 vaccines and Omicron.
  • Dr. Allen Kraut, Medical Director of Occupational Health, who will share updated data about health care worker infections and the latest guidance about workplace precautions, isolation and return-to-work.
  • Dr. Jose Francois, Provincial Specialty Lead for Primary Care, who will offer insights on how to continue providing outpatient care during this Omicron surge. 

Dr. Kristjan Thompson, President of Doctors Manitoba, will also join the webinar.
The Town Hall is open to physicians and medical learners only, and advance registration is required:

Attendees can submit questions in advance for the panel. They can also be submitted live during the webinar. We will do our best to answer all of the questions submitted. 

Vaccine Updates

Vaccine uptake is improving, and physicians are playing a key role in providing needed information and counselling, as well as offering immunizations.
As of today, 2.58 million doses have been administered in Manitoba, including

  • One or more doses: 84.6% of eligible Manitobans
  • Two or more doses: 77.9% of eligible Manitobans
  • Three doses: 30.3% of eligible Manitobans

There are now 400,286 Manitobans with three doses, which is up nearly 60,000 doses in one week. This accounts for most doses given over the last week. 

Among children age five to 11, as of today 49.7% have received their first dose. 

Offer 1st, 2nd and Booster Doses in Your Practice!

Join over 800 physicians in offering COVID-19 vaccines in your practice! It’s a great way to contribute to your patients’ well-being, and we’ve negotiated fair remuneration for physicians to participate.

Physicians can claim $20 per injection for COVID-19 vaccines, and in some cases you can also claim a visit. We’ve also negotiated for additional funding to support patient outreach for first, second and booster shots as well as guaranteed hourly minimum rates and administrative stipends for scheduled vaccine clinics. Check out our overview of funding support for medical clinics.

Moderna for 30+, Pfizer for <30

A reminder that due to a constrained supply of the Pfizer vaccine, public health has introduced age-based recommendations for mRNA vaccines. This patient handout provides background information on the change, noting that individuals under the age of 30 could be at increased risk for a very rare side effect of myocarditis or pericarditis following Moderna immunizations. Therefore, it is important to save Pfizer right now for younger people under the age of 30, and use Moderna for those age 30 and above, even if their previous dose was Pfizer. 

Top of Mind for us? Your Well-Being

Whether its emails about what mask one should wear or calls from physicians who are distressed or experiencing burn out, your well-being is top of mind for us right now. 

Yesterday, you likely received a personal message from Dr. Shelley Anderson, our Medical Director for Physician Health and Wellness. If you missed it, please read it here. Dr. Anderson welcomes the opportunity to connect with you.

You also have many other programs designed specifically for physicians available to you:

  • Physician and Family Support Program — similar to an Employee Assistance Program, Masters prepared counsellors are available to support you and anyone in your household. They also have a concierge type service where they can do research for you on a variety of issues.
  • Physicians at Risk - group and individual peer support led by Dr. Shelley Anderson, for physicians and medical learners. A psychiatric nurse also provides individual and couple counselling for physicians, medical learners and their adult children, 18 and over.
  • MDCare — a multidisciplinary team provide psychiatry and psychological support to practicing physicians and their dependent children under 18 years of age.

If you have to isolate in the days ahead because of COVID-19, don’t forget we offer an Isolation Benefit for physicians.

We’re also focused on getting you answers. We know the lack of transparency, and the regular changes to information, can be concerning to you. While we press health system and government leaders for clearer answers and action, we are holding a town hall this Wednesday, January 12 at 6:30PM with Dr. Roussin, Dr. Reimer and others to answer as many of your questions a possible. 

Please continue to reach out if you need information or have concerns by contacting us at covid19@​doctorsmanitoba.​ca.

Health System in Distress

We’ve heard from so many of you concerned about health care services in your local community, driven primarily by staff vacancies, illnesses and isolation. 

In rural Manitoba, we’re hearing about service disruptions in Boundary Trails, Neepawa, Steinbach, Stonewall, Ste. Anne, Gillam, Leaf Rapids, Boissevain, Killarney, Deloraine, The Pas, Selkirk, and Dauphin. Depending on the facility, service disruptions involve ERs suspensions, inpatient bed closures, obstetrics redirections, diagnostic imaging and lab service reductions, and surgery disruptions. Nurses, techs and other staff are in short supply and being reassigned to other clinical areas or facilities. We’re also hearing about long ambulance wait times as patients are transferred between facilities more often in search of service. 

Are you seeing service disruptions in your hospital? Please report it to us using this quick tool so we can keep track and advocate for you and your patients!

In Winnipeg, we’ve heard about impacts at all of the hospitals. Aside from surgery being disrupted at every facility, we are also hearing about staff being reassigned from outpatient clinics and geriatric day hospital, leaving these services with no nurses. Emergency medicine physicians are also reporting concerns about dozens of patients routinely in ER waiting for an inpatient bed — sometimes for multiple days. 

We know these disruptions are very concerning to physicians, impacting your ability to provide safe and high quality care to your patients. With high vacancy rates in many areas before the Omicron wave arrived, exacerbated by high rates of absenteeism from work due to illness and isolation requirements, we anticipate these issues won’t be resolved quickly. Please continue to raise your concerns locally, but also please report them to Doctors Manitoba too. We are compiling your concerns and sharing them with health system leaders

In Case You Missed It

Here are a few quick updates from last week, in case you missed it:

  • Current restrictions, scheduled to expire tonight, have been extended by the government to February 1. Read more.
  • K‑12 students started remote learning today, but the plan is to return to in-person classes on January 17. Pediatricians are strongly supporting a return to in-person learning, along with evidence-based mitigation in schools to protect students and staff. Read more.
  • Testing protocols for COVID-19 were updated again last week as public health officials try to prioritize PCR testing for individuals who will benefit most from it. Everyone who is symptomatic, age 5 and up, can get a take-home rapid test at provincial test sites. Read more.
  • Health care worker infections are on a steep rise, with over 1,300 cases identified in the last two weeks of December. Physicians are reminded to promote booster shots with colleagues and staff, and that the Doctors Manitoba isolation benefit is available to physicians who must isolate and miss work. Read more.

Key Events This Week

COVID-19 Update & Town Hall for Manitoba Physicians

Join us for an exclusive Omicron update with Dr. Brent Roussin, Dr. Joss Reimer, Dr. Allen Kraut and Dr. Jose Francois. 

The Town Hall is open to physicians and medical learners only, and advance registration is required:

Attendees can submit questions in advance for the panel. They can also be submitted live during the webinar. We will do our best to answer all of the questions submitted. 

A Portrait of Omicron to Date — What We Know and Projected Consequences —
 CanCOVID Speaker Series — January 11, 2pm (CST)

Join Dr. Peter Jüni as he shares a summary of global knowledge to date regarding efforts to understand the spread, interventions and projected consequences for this current wave, and strategies for recovery.

Peter Jüni, MD, FESC, Network Scientific Advisor, CanCOVID, Scientific Director, Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology, Department of Medicine and Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, University of Toronto, Director, Applied Health Research Centre, Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St. Michael’s Hospital

ZOOM link: https://​us06web​.zoom​.us/​j​/8198
Meeting ID: 819 8513 2912
Passcode: 016150

Click here to learn more about this event. While we encourage you to share this event within your networks, we ask that you not share the Zoom link or password directly on social media. This is to help limit hackers from accessing our event.