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Winnipeg doctor will be ‘surprised’ if new restrictions aren’t implemented soon

Click to play video: 'B117 variant now dominant strain in Manitoba' B117 variant now dominant strain in Manitoba
WATCH: The B117 variant is making up roughly 50 per cent of all new cases in Manitoba. But with cases on the rise, health officials still say there is reason to remain hopeful. – Apr 30, 2021

The Winnipeg ICU doctor who warned of Manitoba’s third wave back in March is expecting coronavirus cases to keep climbing and says another lockdown is the best way to stop the trend.

Dr. Anand Kumar, an infectious disease expert and critical care specialist, said hospitals are dreading another surge.

“From an ICU and from a hospital point of view, I think things are going to get much worse over the next couple of weeks,” Kumar said.

Looking back at Manitoba’s last wave, Kumar sees history repeating itself.

“We got within, I think, a week or two of breaking the system when we got up around 400 cases a day,” he said. “The last couple of days we’ve been up around 300.”

Last week, the Manitoba government tightened restrictions, which include a ban on both indoor and outdoor visits between households, amid growing daily case counts and a concerning rise in the spread of more-contagious variants of concern.

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Read more: Manitoba tightens COVID-19 restrictions amid rising case counts, variant spread

Kumar doesn’t think the current public health orders will be enough to protect hospitals.

Restrictions similar to last spring, or a lockdown, Kumar believes are the province’s best option at this point, along with accelerating vaccine delivery.

“I’ll be pretty surprised if we don’t go into another level of restrictions within a week or two,” Kumar said.

In an interview regarding Alberta’s surging cases and hospital capacity, infectious disease specialist Dr. Lynora Saxinger, said data from around the world suggests tough public orders can be successful.

“The evidence is that you need more stringent, stricter and longer periods of public health restrictions to get variant surges under control,” Saxinger said.

Kumar agrees with the approach countries such as Australia took, but as well as the Atlantic provinces.

Read more: A look at why Atlantic Canada excels at slowing the spread of COVID-19

“They use an approach of maximum suppression,” Kumar said. “They try to push the numbers down as far as they can and keep them down.”

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Kumar believes Manitoba should shut down until daily cases average 20 or less.

“If you can get it down to under 20 a day, then you can lift the broad restrictions and just use local measures, and by local measures, I mean contact tracing, case isolation, localized closures,” he said.

“We’ve been using essentially what I consider to be an endless rollercoaster of half measures.”

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