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Winnipeg ICU doc says fall COVID bump may not hit as hard, but health system will be affected

Dr. Anand Kumar, a Winnipeg ICU physician and infectious disease specialist. Global News / File

A Winnipeg intensive care doctor on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic says from his perspective, Manitobans may not be hit quite as hard by a fall wave of the virus as they have by other waves.

Dr. Anand Kumar told 680 CJOB’s The News that he’s seen things generally improving on the COVID front.

“I think we’re definitely getting there,” he said.

“We’re still going to see significant surprises now and then — it’s probably not going to be everything rosy down the road, but on the overall angle, things are getting better.”

Read more: Latest Manitoba numbers reveal COVID-19 severe outcomes up

Kumar, who is also an infectious disease specialist, said one of the main problems he foresees with a fall wave will be hospital staff contracting the virus and missing work, thereby adding to the already serious staffing issues facing local hospitals.

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“Although we may not see the kind of numbers we’ve had in the past with ICU admissions and hospital admissions, we’re still going to see a significant bump,” he said.

“Where we’re going to get hit is — given that there are no restrictions in the community — we’ll probably see a lot of health-care workers go down with COVID in terms of having to take time off work, and that will redouble the difficulty in terms of staffing.”

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According to last week’s provincial data, COVID-related hospitalizations had seen a slight increase, with 70 people taken to hospital, up from 67 the previous week.

Of those Manitobans, 16 people were admitted to ICU, up from nine.

As far as COVID prevention is concerned, booking appointments became available Monday for those who are eligible for the bivalent COVID-19 vaccine.

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Read more: Eligible Manitobans can book bivalent vaccine appointments Monday

The bivalent vaccine has been developed to provide protection against two variants of COVID-19: the original version of the virus and the Omicron variant.

Manitobans aged 65 and older are eligible, as are Indigenous adults, and people 18 or older with higher-risk medical conditions, including those who are immunocompromised or pregnant.

Health-care workers, care home and assisted living residents, and fire and paramedic first responders are also included in the first wave of eligibility.

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