Manitoba says 196 new patients were hospitalized as a result of COVID-19 last week while the province saw 11 more deaths linked to the virus.
The numbers, found in the province’s weekly epidemiology update covering May 1 to 7, show slightly fewer deaths but a rise in hospitalization rates compared with data released a week earlier.
The province’s epidemiology update originally said 183 new patients with COVID-19 were hospitalized last week when the data was posted online Thursday morning, but the number changed to 196 later in the day.
It wasn’t immediately clear why the number was changed.
From April 24 to 30, Manitoba reported 185 new hospitalizations and 14 deaths linked to COVID-19.
Of the latest hospitalizations, 13 required admission to the intensive care unit, according to the data.
The province’s weekly updates don’t give the total number of people currently in hospital and ICU as a result of COVID-19, reporting only how many new admissions occurred during the previous week.
Shared Health told Global News there were a total of 89 patients in Manitoba’s ICUs (both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19) as of Wednesday morning.
‘Elevated sick time’ at hospitals
Global News requested an interview with Shared Health to discuss how Manitoba’s healthcare system is handling the current COVID-19 situation and what’s being done to prepare for the potential of another wave, but was told no one was available.
A Shared Health spokesperson acknowledged hospitals have “experienced elevated sick time in recent weeks,” but said recruiting and retaining nurses is an ongoing priority.
The spokesperson said 29 nurses are expected complete critical care training Friday, with another 19 enrolled in the 12-week class starting May 24.
“New hires will join a workforce that has demonstrated commitment and dedication throughout the pandemic but which has experienced elevated sick time in recent weeks,” the spokesperson said in an email.
“We continue to monitor staff sick rates closely, noting a reduction in staff sick rates across Winnipeg in the most recent pay period (down to 59,600 hours per week from the prior pay cycle’s 71,600 hours per week).”
The province says 11 new outbreaks were reported at long-term care facilities last week.
On average, 832 lab tests for COVID-19 were done daily during the week covered by the latest report, leaving the provincial weekly test positivity rate at 17.6 per cent, down from 20.7 per cent the previous week.
But provincial case counts and positivity rates no longer necessarily give an accurate picture of active infection rates because the government has significantly scaled back provincial testing and they don’t include the results of positive tests done at home.
The province also did not provide further details about the latest deaths. Information about COVID-19 victims, including age, gender and health region, is no longer included in the weekly updates.
Since March 2020, 1,847 Manitobans have died as a result of COVID-19, according to the provincial data.
Wastewater surveillance data for Winnipeg current to May 2 indicated ongoing COVID-19 activity, the province said.
Provincial data shows 83 per cent of eligible Manitobans have been partially vaccinated against COVID-19, up slightly from the 82.8 per cent reported a week earlier.
The number of eligible Manitobans who have been fully vaccinated remained the same at 79.6 per cent.
As of April 30, 42.8 per cent of those eligible have received one additional dose, up from 42.1 per cent reported a month earlier.
–With files from Marney Blunt
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.
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