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Coronavirus: Symptomatic patients starting to put pressure on Winnipeg ERs, says Shared Health

The Grace Hospital Emergency Room. Elisha Dacey/Global News

People frustrated with long lineups at testing sites or showing symptoms of COVID-19 are starting to migrate to Winnipeg’s emergency rooms, according to Shared Health.

Lanette Siragusa, chief nursing officer for Shared Health, confirmed that numbers are higher in ERs lately, although they were expecting those numbers to rise.

“It may be the lineups at the testing site, it may also be that we just have very high volumes right now,” Siragusa told 680CJOB Thursday.

Read more: Manitoba premier says new testing sites, staff will cut COVID-19 lineups

“If people are feeling symptomatic, they would go to a hospital or seek primary care. And so it’s when the numbers get high like this, you know, that at some point they’re going to need some medical care or just a check-in.”

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Testing sites in Winnipeg have been running at capacity for several weeks now, with people being turned away most days and testing results taking anywhere from three to seven days to come back.

Premier Brian Pallister said Thursday that changes are coming.

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“I have to now tell you that I believe Manitobans deserve to get an improved system with better testing, shorter lineups (and) faster response times.”

The government will open a new test site in Winnipeg next week and another the following week, Pallister said, along with more sites in Brandon, Winkler and other communities.

The government is also in discussion with doctors to have access to their offices after hours for testing.

And a new course will be up and running at Red River College in the coming weeks to train workers to perform swabs and other duties, the premier added.

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Coronavirus: 67 new cases announced as Manitoba passes 200K test mark – Oct 8, 2020

We’re working closely with government. We know that there will be some solutions coming in the days to weeks to come in terms of the testing,” said Siragusa.

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Shared Health has taken a provincial approach to hospitalizations and the coronavirus pandemic, she added. On Thursday, there were 25 people in hospital and six in the ICU being treated.

Read more: Coronavirus — Test process depends which Winnipeg site you visit

And while that isn’t an overwhelming number, she said, it’s still a burden of work on an already busy system.

“There are people being treated as close to home as possible. And all the right things are being done. So ICU, as you know, there’s multiple ICU use throughout the province.

“It’s all hands on deck and the work is being shared, which kind of eases the load, I would say, for now.”

COVID-19 numbers have been spiking in recent weeks, especially in Winnipeg. Health officials reported 67 new cases across the province Thursday, 57 of which were in Winnipeg.

Siragusa said hospitals are ready and have enough personal protective equipment for the coming weeks.

—With files from The Canadian Press