Manitoba health officials have changed how the province reports COVID-19 data.
On Friday the province released its first Provincial Respiratory Surveillance Report, which sees COVID-19 data reported along with seasonal data including rates of influenza or other illnesses.
The province had previously released COVID-19 data from the week before every Thursday.
A provincial spokesperson said the information will now be made available in a combined epidemiological report on Friday mornings.
This week’s data, which covers Nov. 6 to Nov. 12, reports five new deaths related to COVID-19, down from 11 deaths the week before.
Health officials say 111 people with COVID-19 were admitted to hospital last week, including 11 to ICU. The week before, the province reported 110 hospitalizations linked to COVID-19 including eight who needed intensive care.
It’s not known how many people are currently in hospital and ICU as a result of COVID-19, because the province no longer reports those numbers.
Officials say the number of new cases dropped last week, with 273 lab-confirmed infections identified in the latest report, down from 341 the previous week.
With an average of 350 tests completed a day, the positivity rate of lab tests fell slightly to 24.5 per cent from 25 per cent the previous week.
Provincial case counts and test positivity rates don’t necessarily give an accurate picture of active infection rates, however, because the government has significantly scaled back testing and the data doesn’t include the results of tests done at home.
Meanwhile, there were six COVID outbreaks reported at Manitoba long-term care homes last week, according to the report.
Influenza numbers rising
Health officials said Manitoba has seen an increase in seasonal influenza over the last three weeks, with a 7.4 per cent rise in test positivity reported last week.
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Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) test positivity was 5.5 per cent last week, according to the report, an increase of three per cent over the previous week.
The report shows 54 new cases of Influenza A were identified and 45 RSV detections were made last week.
The province says the rise in flu cases is happening earlier than would normally be expected for this time of year and led to an average of 2,255 respiratory visits to emergency rooms in the week covered by the report.
While health officials say the province’s predominant flu strain, influenza A (H3N2) typically has higher risk for older adults, roughly one-third of influenza cases and influenza-associated hospital admissions are among children under the age of 18.
The province says children below the age of five years accounted for 13 per cent of all influenza cases and 20 per cent of associated hospital admissions.
The data comes as the children’s emergency department at Health Sciences Centre’s (HSC) in Winnipeg continues to see increasing patient volumes.
Shared Health said this week the ER saw 201 visits on Sunday alone, the highest single-day patient count the department has seen “in at least several years.”
On Friday Shared Health said the children’s emergency department in Winnipeg has since seen a decrease in patient volume, with 152 visits reported Thursday.
However, a Shared Health spokesperson said Friday the hospital’s patient volumes remain “elevated.”
So far this month the children’s ER at HSC is averaging 172.4 patients per day, according to Shared Health, up from a daily average of 145.8 patients per day in October, and well ahead of a record pace set in December 2019, when the average of patient visits to the ED were 170.3 per day.
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.
For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, visit our coronavirus page.