Manitoba’s top doctor says COVID-19 case numbers are too high for health care system to maintain

The latest:

Manitoba reported 16 additional deaths on Tuesday, a new daily high in a province that has been struggling with growing COVID-19 case numbers.

“This is a tragedy for all Manitobans,” Dr. Brent Roussin said Tuesday after reading a list with the ages and communities of those who died.

“We know that these are much more than numbers. These are people who are missed right now.”

Manitoba, which has seen a total of 328 deaths, reported 283 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday — the first time in more than a week that the new case number in the province dropped below 300.

Roussin said that while numbers aren’t “climbing rapidly,” they still aren’t where the province needs them to be.

“These numbers are still too high for us to sustain.”

The province’s health-care capacity is “being pushed” he said, noting that hospitals are reaching capacity and health-care workers are overwhelmed.

As of Tuesday, there were 338 people hospitalized, with 48 in intensive care.


What’s happening across Canada

As of 12:40 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Canada’s COVID-19 case count stood at 386,717, with 66,831 of those considered active cases. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 12,287.

British Columbia also reported 16 additional deaths on Tuesday, bringing the provincial death toll to 457. Health officials in the province reported 656 new cases of COVID-19 and said there were 336 people in hospital, including 76 in intensive care.

Faced with rising case numbers, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix reiterated their plea for people to follow rules put in place to try and slow the spread of the virus.

“Without exception, follow the provincial health officer’s orders in place,” the pair said in a statement. “Remember that events, which refer to anything that gathers people together — whether on a one-time, regular or irregular basis — are not allowed for now.”

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In Alberta, health officials announced 10 additional deaths and 1,307 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday. Hospitalizations stood at 479, with 97 people in intensive care. 

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said a decision around what sort of restrictions will be in place over the holidays is expected later in the month.

“However, in the past we have seen holiday gatherings lead to increases in cases and outbreaks as one case spreads to many,” Hinshaw said, pointing to the ongoing impact of Thanksgiving gatherings. 

“This is not going to be the year for in-person office parties,” she said. “This is not going to be the year for open houses, or large dinners with friends and extended family.”

WATCH | Nunavut town must keep strict measures to stop COVID-19 as restrictions lifted elsewhere:

Nunavut’s chief public health officer, Dr. Michael Patterson, warns Arviat needs to keep its tight restrictions to stop the spread of COVID-19. 1:04

In Saskatchewan, health officials reported 181 new cases of COVID-19 and four additional deaths, bringing the provincial death toll to 51.

The province’s minister of corrections said she doesn’t know how COVID-19 arrived in the Saskatoon Correctional Centre, which is dealing with a growing outbreak that has led to well over 100 cases among inmates, as well as several infections among staff.

Ontario on Wednesday reported 1,723 new cases of COVID-19, with 500 cases in Peel Region and 410 in Toronto. Health Minister Christine Elliott said in a tweet that 44,200 tests had been completed.

Health officials also reported 35 additional deaths, bringing the provincial death toll to 3,698.

Hospitalizations increased to 656, with 183 people in intensive care units, according to a provincial dashboard.

Health officials in Quebec on Wednesday reported 1,514 new cases of COVID-19 and 43 additional deaths.

Hospitalizations increased to 740, with 99 patients being treated in intensive care units.

WATCH | What doctors are learning about COVID-19 ‘long-haulers’:

Researchers are learning more about why some people who get a mild case of COVID-19 end up experiencing other symptoms for months. Doctors say these so-called long-haulers often have symptoms that resemble a common blood circulation disorder known as POTS. 4:10

Premier François Legault warned Tuesday that the province’s plan to allow gatherings for four days around Christmas is at risk as the number of hospitalizations in the province reached their highest level since June.

“We’re not going in the right direction,” Legault said at a press conference in Quebec City. “If hospitalizations continue to increase, it will be difficult to take that risk.”

In Atlantic Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador reported one new case of COVID-19 on Wednesday.

Updated information had not yet come in for the other provinces in the region, but on Tuesday Nova Scotia reported 10 new cases of COVID-19 and New Brunswick reported seven new cases. There were no new cases in Prince Edward Island. 

There were 11 new cases of COVID-19 reported on Wednesday in Nunavut, which is at the end of a two-week lockdown period that covered the entire territory. All of the new cases were reported in Arviat, where tight public health restrictions are still in effect.

The Northwest Territories and Yukon had no new cases on Tuesday.


What’s happening around the world

From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 12:40 p.m. ET

WATCH | COVID-19 vaccine rollout — What the experts say:

As of early Wednesday afternoon, there were more than 64 million reported cases of COVID-19 worldwide, with more than 41.2 million of those listed as recovered or resolved, according to a tracking tool maintained by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at well over 1.4 million.

In Europe, British regulators insisted that “no corners have been cut” during the assessment of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech, which was cleared for emergency use on Wednesday.

In a briefing after the U.K.’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency became the first regulator worldwide to approve the vaccine, its chair, Dr. June Raine, said the public can be “absolutely confident” that its standards are equivalent to those anywhere around the world.

Regulators also revealed the order by which the vaccine will be rolled out across the country over the coming weeks and months, beginning next week. The U.K. has ordered around 40 million doses of the vaccine, which can potentially immunize 20 million people as two doses are required.

Residents in nursing homes and their care givers will be offered the vaccine first, followed by those 80 and over and front-line health- and social- care workers. From there, the priority plan largely follows age groups.

According to Munir Pirmohamed, chair of a medicines panel, immunity begins seven days after the second dose.

British lawmakers approved new coronavirus restrictions in England that take effect Wednesday but many Conservative lawmakers are unhappy about the economic consequences.

People wearing face masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus line up to buy lottery tickets in downtown Barcelona, Spain on Wednesday. (Emilio Morenatti/The Associated Press)

The Spanish government has agreed with regional authorities that up to 10 people will be allowed to gather in households for the Christmas and New Year holidays to avoid spreading the coronavirus, Health Minister Salvador Illa said on Wednesday.

Russia and Germany both reported record numbers of daily coronavirus deaths, with 580 deaths reported in Russia and 487 in Germany.

With more than 2.3 million infections, Russia has the fourth-largest number of COVID-19 cases in the world behind the United States, India and Brazil. 

President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian authorities on Wednesday to begin mass voluntary vaccinations against COVID-19 next week as Russia recorded 589 new daily deaths from the coronavirus. Russia will have produced two million vaccine doses within the next few days, Putin said.

In the Asia-Pacific region, South Korean officials are urging people to remain at home if possible and cancel gatherings large and small as around half a million students prepared for a crucial national college exam.

Vice-Education Minister Park Baeg-beom says the 490,000 applicants so far include 35 virus carriers who will take exams Thursday at hospitals or treatment shelters. Education authorities have also prepared separate venues for some 400 applicants currently under self-quarantine.

Applicants will be required to wear masks and maintain distance from each other. They will be screened for fever and take exams separately if they have symptoms.

Workers clean plastic sheeting placed on desks in a classroom on Tuesday to prevent the spread of COVID-19, ahead of the college scholastic ability test at a high school Tuesday in Seoul, South Korea. (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

Pakistan reported 75 new COVID-19 deaths Wednesday, one of the highest fatalities from coronavirus in recent months, prompting government to launch a week-long campaign beginning Saturday to urge people to wear masks.

The government, however, has ruled out re-imposing a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of the virus, which has killed 8,166 people and infected 403,311 in Pakistan.

Pakistan flattened the curve in August but currently it is facing a lethal new surge of infections.

In the Americas, U.S. officials on Wednesday urged people to stay home over the upcoming holiday season. If a person does decide to travel, they are encouraged to get tested before and after the trip.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the best way to stay safe and protect others is to stay home. That’s the same advice it shared before Thanksgiving, but many Americans travelled anyway.

During a news briefing, the CDC said travellers should consider getting a COVID-19 test one to three days before their trip and again three to five days afterward. Officials also recommended reducing non-essential activities for a full week after travel or for 10 days if not tested afterward.

Indigenous people, health workers and those aged 75 years and older will be at the front of the line to be vaccinated, Brazil’s Health Ministry said as it unveiled a four-stage preliminary plan for national immunization.

In Mexico, the government was expected to sign a contract on Wednesday with pharmaceutical company Pfizer for the delivery of its vaccine.

A nurse takes a blood sample from a person to perform a COVID-19 serological test in Escobedo, state of Nuevo Leon, Mexico on Tuesday. (Julio Cesar Aguilar/AFP/Getty Images)

In Africa, South Africa’s reported COVID-19 case numbers stood at more than 792,000 on Wednesday. The country, which has seen more reported cases than any other nation in Africa, has seen more than 21,000 deaths.

Iran, the hardest-hit nation in the Middle East, was approaching 990,000 cases of COVID-19 and 49,000 deaths.

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