4 more Manitoba COVID-19 ICU patients moved to Ontario as province reports 353 new cases

As of Monday, 14 people have now been transported out of Manitoba as the province works to free up space in its strained intensive care units, a Shared Health spokesperson said.

Record-high 88 ICU admissions for COVID-19 with 74 patients in intensive care locally, 14 in Ontario

Most COVID-19 test sites in Manitoba are open regular hours on Monday. Locations and hours are listed on the province's website. (Alberta Health Services)

Fourteen people who landed in Manitoba's intensive care units after getting COVID-19 have now been transferred to hospitals across Ontario.

That includes four patients moved later Sunday, after the province provided that day's update on Manitoba's efforts to free up space in its strained intensive care units, a spokesperson for Shared Health said.

"I think that the fact that we were sending one patient to Ontario is an unmitigated disaster and sending 14, I don't know if I have the words for that," said Dr. Souradet Shaw, an assistant professor at the University of Manitoba and Canada Research Chair in program science and global public health.

In Manitoba, there are now 318 people in hospital after contracting the illness, up by two since Sunday, the province's online coronavirus dashboard says.

That number includes 74 people who remain in intensive care units within Manitoba, the dashboard says. On top of the patients moved to Ontario, the total number of COVID-19 ICU patients from the province is now 88 — a record high for Manitoba.

More could be coming, Shaw says.

"The most important thing we should really consider is that we had over 6,300 cases in the past two weeks. And I think this will be felt in the acute sector really immensely," he said.

"If only one per cent of those 6,300 cases end up in ICU, we're talking about 60 more people in the ICU and we're already over capacity."

Patients who have or had COVID-19 now make up roughly 62 per cent of the province's total 119 patients in intensive care units, the Shared Health spokesperson said. Eleven of them are under age 40.

Since last Tuesday, five patients have been moved to Thunder Bay, one has been moved to London and two each have been moved to Ottawa, Sault Ste. Marie, North Bay and Windsor, the spokesperson said.

353 new cases on Monday

Manitoba also reported 353 new COVID-19 cases while its death toll rose to 1,033 on Monday, the dashboard says.

That's four more deaths than the dashboard showed on Sunday. However, the online tool sometimes adjusts its totals to account for cases or deaths removed from Manitoba's totals after data corrections.

Most of the new cases are in the Winnipeg health region, which reported 269 new infections. The rest are split between the Southern Health region (which posted 37 new cases), the Prairie Mountain Health region (21), the Interlake-Eastern health region (15) and the Northern Health Region (11), the dashboard says.

Manitoba's five-day test positivity rate sank slightly to 14.3 per cent on Monday, the dashboard says, down from 14.5 on Sunday.

On Sunday, Winnipeg's test positivity rate had reached 16.7 per cent, though that number is not included on the province's dashboard and won't be updated again until Tuesday.

Shaw says the COVID-19 curve will bend eventually, but there's some uncertainty as to when that will happen.

"I am worried about our incredibly high test positivity, our low testing numbers and our low vaccine uptake in some areas of the province," Shaw said.

"To me, this points to a sustained plateau, or at least a slower decline, and I'm not really sure our health system can can handle that."

Most COVID-19 test sites in Manitoba are open on Monday. A full list of locations and their hours is available on the province's website.

Because of the Victoria Day holiday, there will be no COVID-19 news release or media briefing on Monday, the province said in an email to media outlets on Friday.

Regular updates, including a news conference with Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba's chief public health officer, will resume Tuesday, the province said.

Updates on more contagious coronavirus variants are only provided Tuesday through Saturday. As of the most recent numbers available from Saturday, those strains make up at least 2,965 — or nearly 60 per cent — of Manitoba's 5,061 cases that are still considered active, provincial numbers show.

Manitoba has now reported 48,787 COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, including 42,693 deemed recovered, the dashboard says.

With files from Rachel Bergen, Caitlyn Gowriluk and Karen Pauls