12 deaths, 11 more COVID-19 hospitalizations reported in Manitoba on Wednesday
Manitoba to get 1,100 doses of new Pfizer antiviral treatment
Manitoba public health officials announced 12 COVID-related deaths and 11 more hospitalizations on Wednesday.
There are now 631 people in hospital with the virus, setting another high since the province started reporting that statistic daily in December 2020.
That's over 200 more than a week earlier and nearly 400 more than two weeks ago.
Among those in hospital, 50 are in intensive care units, an increase of two since Tuesday.
Ten of the deaths are from the Winnipeg health region, one from the Southern Health region and one from the Prairie Mountain Health region.
The province's death toll related to COVID-19 is now 1,478.
The people from the Winnipeg region who died are a man in his 40s, two women in their 60s, a man in his 70s, three men in their 80s and three women in their 80s.
The deaths in the Southern Health and Prairie Mountain Health regions are both men in their 70s.
More details were also released about three deaths reported Tuesday on the province's online dashboard, all from the Winnipeg health region. They are a man in his 80s, a woman in her 90s and a man in his 90s who is linked to the outbreak at Actionmarguerite St. Boniface.
The province reported 919 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, although health officials have repeatedly said those numbers are a significant undercount of the total number of active cases.
The rapid spread of the Omicron variant has overwhelmed testing capacity and led to numerous cases going unreported. Many people are now using rapid tests, the results of which are not entered into the provincial database.
Manitoba is strictly restricting access to PCR tests at provincial sites. To protect capacity, those tests are limited to certain people, including some symptomatic people and some people who have had a positive rapid test.
As has been the case for many weeks, the majority of the new cases are in the Winnipeg health region, with 576.
There are 102 in the Interlake-Eastern health region, 92 in Prairie Mountain Health, 79 in the Northern Health Region and 70 in the Southern Health region.
A breakdown of the latest cases by vaccination status can be viewed on a chart on the government website.
The total number of patients in ICUs — both those with COVID-19 and those being treated for non-COVID-related issues — is 100. That's down two from Tuesday and seven since Monday.
The critical care program's normal, pre-COVID baseline capacity was 72 patients. At a news conference last week, Health Minister Audrey Gordon said the province's maximum ICU capacity had been increased to 116.
Two active cases of COVID-19 were reported in the pediatric intensive care unit at the Children's Hospital at Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg.
A Shared Health spokesperson said there is continued focus on ensuring capacity is available to care for patients as demand increases, including in the pediatric ward.
The spokesperson added that as of Wednesday morning, seven pediatric patients in the unit were were receiving both COVID and non-COVID care — a number that, similar to adult critical care, can change multiple times daily — as well as three adult patients.
"Planning is underway to train and orient staff to support an increase in PICU beds, should patient needs increase," the spokesperson said.
There have been 22 pediatric COVID-19 cases that required critical care since start of the pandemic.
New outbreaks have been declared at:
- St. Boniface Hospital, M2, in Winnipeg.
- River East Personal Care Home in Winnipeg.
- Concordia Hospital, N3 East, in Winnipeg.
- Health Sciences Centre, PX2 East, in Winnipeg.
- Gillam Hospital in Gillam.
A previously announced outbreak at Portage Evangelical Church in Portage la Prairie is now over.
Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin said in a news conference Wednesday that Manitoba will be getting 1,100 doses of the new Pfizer antiviral treatment, Paxlovid, which was approved by Health Canada on Monday.
The province is waiting for that delivery and additional doses have been requested, he said.
Eligibility for the medication will be based on getting a positive COVID-19 test and the likelihood of becoming severely ill from the virus.
"This is yet another welcome tool to our toolbox to mitigate the risk of COVID-19," Roussin said. "The purpose of this is to decrease that strain on the health-care system."
Anyone who tests positive on a self-administered rapid test can be referred for an assessment and a followup rapid test, performed by a health-care provider, to confirm.
Treatment with Paxlovid must be administered within five days of the onset of symptoms, "so this makes it even more important, especially if you're at high risk, of closely monitoring symptoms and early testing," Roussin said.
There will soon be a "clear process" available online for people to refer themselves for the new treatment, no matter whether their positive test was a PCR or a rapid test, Roussin said.
He couldn't say how many self-administered rapid tests are turning up positive, but the ones being reported are only a fraction of what's out there, he said.
"Omicron's spread is extensive. By now, most people probably know someone or maybe even several people who've contracted the virus," said Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of Manitoba's COVID-19 vaccine implementation task force.
She urged people to get vaccinated — especially children of eligible age who have returned to in-school classes — and pushed for people in their 50s and 60s to get booster shots.
A total of 66,654 first doses have been given to children age five to 11, which is 53.3 per cent of that age group, the province's dashboard says.
People who are not fully vaccinated are three times as likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19, 11 times as likely to be admitted to an intensive care unit and 10 times as likely to die with COVID-19, Roussin said.
As of Wednesday, 85.1 per cent of eligible Manitobans have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 78.3 per cent have had at least two and 36.5 per cent have had three, the provincial vaccine dashboard says.
Eligibility for first and second doses includes anyone age five or older. Anyone 18 or older is eligible for a third dose, if there's been a long enough interval since they received their second dose.
The total number of doses administered in the province is now at 2,672,627 with 2,399 more scheduled to be given on Wednesday.
The province also provided an update Wednesday on enforcement of public health orders, saying 28 warnings and 27 tickets were issued during the week of Jan. 10-16.
The total amount of fines handed out was $21,442.
Twenty-one tickets, each for $298, were handed out for failure to wear a mask in an indoor public place, while another four tickets of $1,296 each were given to individuals for various offences.
Viva Restaurant on Sargent Avenue in Winnipeg was hit with two tickets of $5,000 each.
There were 18 tickets issued in the Southern Health region (67 per cent) while six were in Winnipeg (22 per cent), two in the Northern Health Region (seven per cent) and one in the Prairie Mountain Health region (four per cent).
None were given out in the Interlake-Eastern health region.
WATCH | Full news conference on COVID-19 | January 19, 2022:
- An earlier version of this story attributed a comment about maximum ICU capacity to Premier Heather Stefanson. In fact, Health Minister Audrey Gordon said the province's maximum ICU capacity was 116.Jan 20, 2022 2:27 PM CT