Manitoba hospitals feeling strain from high COVID-19 case numbers

WINNIPEG — The rising number of COVID-19 cases being reported in Manitoba is having a strain on the province’s hospitals.

On Monday, 430 new COVID-19 cases were announced, and 209 people are in hospital with active COVID-19 cases. Another 56 people in hospital are no longer infectious but still need the care.

“Manitoba’s healthcare system continues to be stretched due to the high volume of case counts, which are resulting in more patients coming to the intensive care unit and the medicine units,” said Manitoba’s chief nursing officer Lanette Siragusa.

She said there are normally 72 beds in Manitoba’s intensive care units, but as of Monday, there were 120 patients in ICU, including 73 COVID-19 patients, 53 of whom have active cases.

Siragusa said nine of the COVID-19 patients in ICU are under the age of 40.

She said in the pandemic’s second wave, intensive care capacity peaked at 129 patients. On Monday, Siragusa said the province is getting closer to hitting that number again.

“We are admitting, on average, six patients a day to ICU, and the unknown is how many people are transferred out at the same time,” she said. “Every day, there is an ebb and flow going in and out of critical care.”

Siragusa said elective surgeries are being scaled back and 100 staff have been actively redeployed to help with intensive care. Of those employees, 82 are nurses.

She said since January, there have been about 34 patients in intensive care who had already received their first dose of the vaccine, and had contracted the virus within three weeks of rolling up their sleeves to get the shot.

“When you get your dose, when you get your immunization – you need to still be cautious for about three weeks,” Siragusa said, adding after about three weeks the vaccines are about 90 per cent effective.

“Getting the vaccine is really important.”

Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer, said the province is seeing younger and younger people admitted to hospital and ICU.

“It is just a reminder of how severe COVID-19 is, and how much it is affecting the health of Manitobans directly and also indirectly by putting strains on our healthcare system,” Roussin said.

-With files from CTV’s Michelle Gerwing and Josh Crabb.

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