It’s no longer just about COVID-19 case counts, it’s about how sick people are going to get.
Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief public health officer, says despite Manitoba’s relatively high COVID-19 vaccine uptake, modelling shows the province is currently still heading for a wave that may overwhelm intensive care units again by Christmas.
“We’re tracking on the severe scenario. So we are seeing case numbers go up. We are seeing significant increases in hospitalization and ICU and certainly with some regions are contributing more to that than others,” he told media Monday afternoon.
Roussin said the southern health region has the highest test positivity rate in the province, but he would not release an exact number.
Despite that, Roussin didn’t answer directly if he thought new restrictions being implemented Tuesday in the southern health region would make any difference in preventing this outcome, considering that many unvaccinated people there are not following current public health restrictions.
“We need people to adhere to that or we’re going to continue to see these numbers increase. Part of that is messaging. Part of that is outreach,” he said.
“And then, of course, along with adherence, we need to have enforcement on these.”
Global News has reached out to the province about enforcement plans when the new rules come into effect.
The new public health orders impose lower caps on gatherings where unvaccinated people are in attendance.
The new rules also single out the southern health region with a 50 per cent cap on capacity in retail businesses there.
Health officials have announced 83 new cases provincewide and two deaths, both of which are in the southern health region.
In August, deputy public health officer Dr. Jazz Atwal pleaded with Manitobans to get vaccinated, saying that the new Delta variant was much more contagious.
The outcomes are also more severe in people who have no immunity, he added.
“It’s vital for the future safety of Manitobans that everyone get vaccinated as soon as possible,” he said. “The Delta variant is changing the game, so please roll up your sleeves.
“This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. There are those who don’t believe in COVID — despite the fact we sent dozens of people out of province just for ICU care. COVID-19 is real. COVID-19 will impact you if you get it.”
If hospital ICUs become overwhelmed, like they currently are in Alberta and Saskatchewan and they were earlier this year during the third wave, further restrictions may be imposed, said Roussin.
—with files from The Canadian Press