Manitoba hits new hospitalization record, third-highest daily COVID-19 tally

A man in his 40s from the Interlake-Eastern Health region is one of three more people with COVID-19 who have died in Manitoba, while 170 more people have tested positive for the virus, Manitoba public health officials announced Wednesday.

A man in his 80s linked to the outbreak at Victoria General Hospital in Winnipeg and a woman in her 80s from the Interlake-Eastern Health region linked to an outbreak at the Misericordia Place care home are the two other people who died. 

That brings the death toll from the coronavirus in the province to 61 since the start of the pandemic.

Health officials continue to see cases linked to people not following public health advice by attending large gatherings and leaving their homes even though they have symptoms, Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin said at a news conference Wednesday.

Many cases have been linked to Thanksgiving and other gatherings where people are often sharing items such as vape pens, Roussin said.

In one example, seven cases were linked to the same Thanksgiving dinner. 

Other cases have been linked to people travelling to different parts of the province to visit family, “only to bring the virus with them,” he said.

“And so we can see how our close contacts can quickly become cases and more contacts.”

Hospitalizations climb to new heights

The number of hospitalizations and intensive care patients set new records on Wednesday, with 89 people in hospital, 19 of them in intensive care. That’s up from the previous record of 83 set on Tuesday, when 15 people were in the ICU.

“The capacity is continuing to be further stretched,” Chief Nursing Officer Lanette Siragusa said at the news conference, with ICU capacity at 92 per cent, which is higher than it was on Monday.

There are still beds for patients and supplies, she said.

“Our most precious resource right now is our staff,” she said.

A total of 43 surgeries have been cancelled, some because staff are isolating due to exposure to the virus, others because of changes meant to protect staff, Siragusa said. 

Manitoba’s five-day test-positivity rate — the rolling average of the number of COVID-19 tests that come back positive — is 7.3, down slightly from the record high of 7.5 on Tuesday.

The announcement of 170 cases is the third highest number the province has recorded.

Most of the new cases are in the Winnipeg health region, where 117 people have tested positive. There are 26 new cases in the Interlake-Eastern health region, 18 in the Southern Health region, six in the Northern Health region, and three in the Prairie Mountain Health region.

A total of 4,701 people in Manitoba have tested positive for the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic. Provincial health data shows 2,334 active cases and 2,306 people recovered, although health officials have said that active case numbers are likely inflated because of a backlog.

Cross Lake First Nation has moved to the critical red level on the province’s pandemic response system after multiple people tested positive in the community.  The cases are linked to a funeral attended by someone who didn’t have symptoms but later tested positive for COVID-19, which the province announced on Tuesday.

An outbreak at the St. Norbert Personal Care Home has been declared over, health officials said.

Record-setting day

The latest numbers come one day after Manitoba set new records for daily COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

The province recorded its highest number of new cases in a single day on Tuesday, reporting 184 people tested positive for the virus. 

The number of people in hospital has tripled in 10 days, growing from 29 on Oct. 19 to 89 on Wednesday.

There were 83 people in hospitals, including 15 in intensive care units, as of Tuesday. Three more deaths were reported, bringing the total to 58 since the pandemic emerged in Manitoba. (Bryce Hoye/CBC)

Health Minister Cameron Friesen tried to quell fears that hospitals were on the brink of being overwhelmed at a news conference on Tuesday.

Case numbers are trending in the wrong direction, but the health system still has capacity, he said.

“We are planning accordingly. We are not at a breaking point,” Friesen said.

Three people linked to an outbreak at St. Boniface Hospital have died as of Tuesday, and a patient linked to an outbreak at Victoria General Hospital died after being transferred to St. Boniface.

As of Tuesday, the St. Boniface outbreak had led to infections in 23 patients and 10 staff, while the Victoria outbreak infected 19 patients and 19 staff. 

The province announced a 19th death in an outbreak at the Parkview Place personal care home, where 104 residents have tested positive in the facility that housed 221 people as of last Friday.

Revera, the for-profit company that runs Parkview Place, also operates the Maples Long Term Care Home, where 69 of the facility’s 200 residents had tested positive by Tuesday, up from 35 on Monday.

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