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COVID-19: Doctor expects Manitoba to ‘blow by’ previous ICU high as numbers climb

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

A Manitoba ICU doctor is warning the next few weeks could be unlike anything we’ve seen in hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Intensive care physician and infectious disease specialist Dr. Anand Kumar says the height of the second wave was 72 COVID-19 patients in the ICU. And he’s expecting the third wave to surpass that number easily.

“The numbers we are going to see in the next two to three weeks … we’re going to blow by our previous high,” Kumar said.

Thursday’s numbers showed out of 185 people in hospital, 52 were in the ICU.

READ MORE: Manitoba reports highest daily case jump since December

Kumar worries nurses are going to be hit hard by this latest and potentially greatest wave. He says there are enough ventilators and spaces for beds, but nursing is the limiting factor.

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“We need to try and increase capacity as much as we can, and that’s going to mean in the very near future redeploying everybody who has ICU nursing experience or respiratory experience back into the ICU,” he said.

“We’re going to ask something of nursing that has never been asked in this province before. It’s going to be really hard for them.”

Meanwhile, Jason Kindrachuk, an assistant professor and Canada Research Chair in emerging viruses at the University of Manitoba, is flabbergasted by the province’s current strategy and says more restrictions and possibly a full circuit-breaker needs to be implemented.

READ MORE: Opposition parties call for new restrictions in Manitoba

“How many opportunities do we want to give the virus an opportunity to maneuver through?” Kindrachuk said.

“We’re kind of doing this in a piecemeal fashion, how much more can we put on the health care system before we are in serious trouble?”

Kumar is stunned that lessons haven’t been learned from the fall.

“It is the classic definition of insanity,” Kumar said. “We are doing the same thing over and over again.

“If we shut down three weeks ago, we may have had a chance at a decent summer. I have no understanding of why the government chooses this specific pathway.”

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Provincial health officials have said they are trying to avoid a complete shutdown like we saw in the fall because of the mental health toll on Manitobans.

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