The number of Manitobans in hospital with COVID-19 fell Monday as health officials reported 325 new infections and 12 additional deaths from the virus.
The latest deaths push Manitoba’s death toll to 407 and bring the total number of cases reported since March to 19,131.
Data from the province shows hospitalization rates for COVID-19 dropped 38 patients between Sunday and Monday, with 310 people in hospital with the virus as of Monday morning.
There was also a drop in COVID-19 patients in intensive care with 39 in ICU as of Monday, down four from the day before.
Manitoba’s reported active case load also saw a significant one-day drop — from 9,216 Sunday to 5,462 Monday.
The province’s chief public officer of health said the sharp reduction comes as health officials get caught up on a backlog of case and contact tracing that’s been plaguing the province for weeks.
“We’ve reviewed older cases and closed a number of them, more accurately to reflect that those individuals have recovered,” Dr. Brent Roussin explained, adding the province’s recent move to an automatic calling system is helping the process.
The latest deaths announced Monday include:
- a female in her 60s from the Southern Health–Santé Sud health region, linked to the outbreak at Health Science Centre unit GA3;
- a female in her 70s from the Southern Health–Santé Sud health region;
- a male in his 70s from the Prairie Mountain Health region, linked to the outbreak at Grandview Personal Care Home;
- a female in her 70s from the Interlake–Eastern health region;
- a female in her 70s from the Winnipeg health region;
- a male in his 80s from the Winnipeg health region, linked to the outbreak at the Golden Links Lodge;
- a female in her 80s from the Northern health region, linked to the outbreak at Acute Care Inpatient Unit of The Pas Health Complex, St. Anthony’s General Hospital;
- a female in her 80s from the Winnipeg health region;
- a female in her 80s from the Winnipeg health region;
- a male in his 80s from the Winnipeg health region;
- a male in his 90s from the Winnipeg health region, linked to the outbreak at the St. Norbert Personal Care Home; and
- a male in his 90s from the Northern health region.
Monday’s new cases include 191 in the Winnipeg Health region, 39 cases in the Southern Health region, 20 cases in the Prairie Mountain Health region, 37 cases in the Northern Health region, and 38 cases in the Interlake-Eastern Health region.
As of Monday the five-day test positivity rate is 13.7 per cent provincially and 14.6 per cent in Winnipeg.
Over the weekend, provincial health officials reported 737 new infections and 33 additional deaths, including a record-setting 19 deaths on Saturday.
Of the 14 deaths announced Sunday, eight were connected to outbreaks of the coronavirus at personal care homes.
On Monday new outbreaks were reported at the Swan Valley Health Centre in Swan River and Action Marguerite – St. Joseph’s Residence, Kildonan Personal Care Centre and Convalescent Home all in Winnipeg.
Health officials also warned about a recent potential COVID-19 exposure during a funeral in Sapotaweyak Cree Nation on Nov. 27. They say a person who has tested positive for the virus attended the funeral during their infectious period.
Anyone who attended the funeral should self-isolate and call the local health centre for further instructions, health officials said Monday.
Roussin has been for weeks warning Manitoba’s health-care system is being stretched to the brink with hundreds of new cases reported daily.
On Monday Manitoba’s chief nursing officer, Lanette Siragusa said the province’s ICUs are currently working at 160 per cent of normal capacity, pre-COVID-19.
She said 73 more health-care workers have tested positive for the virus in the past week.
Vaccine preparedness, extended restrictions
Manitoba imposed strict public orders Nov. 12 banning large public gatherings, closing non-essential businesses and forbidding in-home gatherings, with a few exceptions, in an effort to curb weeks of surging daily case numbers.
Manitoba’s current public health orders are scheduled to expire on Friday, but Premier Brian Pallister has said some form of restrictions will have to be extended.
Last week Roussin said he expected to announce details of the extended restrictions early this week. When asked about the plans Monday Roussin wouldn’t wouldn’t say what may be coming, how long they may last, or when he expects to officially announce the new round of restrictions.
Roussin was also asked about Manitoba’s plans for vaccinations, after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced earlier Monday Canada has secured an agreement to receive its first batch of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine before the end of the year — up to 249,000 doses.
That means a select few Canadians could receive the country’s first coronavirus vaccine shots as early as next week, pending Health Canada approval.
Roussin says the province is prepared to received its share of the vaccine — which requires ultra-low temperature storage capacity — and ready is to start immunizations when it arrives.
He said provincial health officials have yet to receive word on how many doses Manitoba will receive, but did say he expects it will be a limited roll out at first.
Canada has signed on to buy at least 20 million doses from the American pharmaceutical company, with the first four million tentatively slated to arrive in the first three months of 2021. The deal also gives Canada the option to buy another 56 million doses.
The Pfizer vaccine requires two doses.
Last week, the National Advisory Committee on Immunizations recommended priority be given to a number of key groups: residents and workers in long-term care homes, front-line health workers, people over the age of 80, and people living in Indigenous communities.
Pfizer’s final analysis from its clinical trials shows its vaccine is 95 per cent effective, has no serious side effects and protects older adults.
Canada is reviewing three other vaccine candidates, including the one from Moderna. If approved, it could deliver two million doses to Canada in the first quarter of 2021.
–With files from The Canadian Press and Rachael D’Amore
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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