Early stages of 4th wave in Manitoba driven by rising case numbers in south: top doctor

Manitoba is at the beginning of another wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, this one driven by increased transmission of the virus in the southern part of the province, the Chief Provincial Public Health Officer says.

“If we look at the numbers, especially in the south right now, it’s very likely that we’re in the early stages of a fourth wave,” said Dr. Brent Roussin in an online news conference on Monday.

“We’re still seeing some increased transmission in certain areas. We’re seeing higher case numbers in the Southern Health region, higher test positivity in that region and ICU admissions from there. So again, we’re we’re following those case numbers quite closely.”

In the province’s latest epidemiology report, covering the period from Aug. 29 to Sept. 4, one-third of the 283 cases reported that week were from the Southern Health region, although the rural health authority has slightly more than 15 per cent of Manitoba’s population.

That’s nearly on par with the percentage reported in the Winnipeg health region, which is home to roughly 62 per cent of the province’s population.

There are currently 69 Manitobans hospitalized, 23 of whom are from the Southern Health region. Of the 14 Manitobans receiving critical care, three are from the rural health region.

Roussin is worried that if more people don’t get vaccinated, hospitals could be overwhelmed.

“If transmission continues on this way, then we could be at risk to look like some of our neighbours to the west, who are seeing much higher cases,” he said.

In Alberta for instance, there were 1,473 new cases on Friday, with 686 people being treated in hospital, 169 of whom were in intensive care beds.

Dr. Verna Yiu, CEO of Alberta Health Services, says intensive care beds are 130 per cent over capacity, and critically ill patients are being directed to overflow wards.

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