Another record-breaking day for COVID-19 in Manitoba with 193 new cases, 97 hospitalizations
Health minister says provincial officials looking at additional steps as case numbers keep rising
The COVID-19 pandemic in Manitoba continued its upward climb with another record-breaking day on Thursday.
The province reported 193 more cases, and 97 people in hospital with the illness — both new highs.
This is the second time in three days the province has set a new record for the most cases in a single day.
The province also announced another death — a man in his 80s from the Southern Health region. This brings the total number of deaths due to COVID-19 to 62.
The number of hospital patients with COVID-19 in intensive care dropped slightly to 17, down from the record high of 19 set on Wednesday.
Manitoba also broke a new record for its five-day test-positivity rate — a rolling average of the number of COVID-19 tests that come back positive — which climbed to 7.8 per cent, up from the previous high of 7.5 per cent set just two days ago.
The province also said Thursday it plans to open a new drive-thru testing site near CF Polo Park shopping centre, at the Manitoba Public Insurance building at 125 King Edward St. The site will open on Saturday, and operate seven days a week, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
A total of 3,375 COVID-19 tests were completed in Manitoba on Wednesday.
The bulk of the new cases are in the Winnipeg health region, at 139. There were also 21 new cases in the Interlake-Eastern health region, 19 in Southern Health, 10 in Northern Health, and four in Prairie Mountain Health region.
The latest numbers continue the upward trajectory of the pandemic in Manitoba, one day after Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin acknowledged that health orders meant to curb the growth of new cases, particularly in Winnipeg, haven't had the desired effect.
The city moved to the orange, or "restricted," level on the province's pandemic response system late last month.
Further restrictions were imposed Oct. 19 in the Winnipeg metropolitan region, with gathering limits cut back from 10 to five people and stand-alone bars and nightclubs ordered to close, to little noticeable effect.
"We're not seeing the results that we expected with the restrictions," Roussin said at a news conference Wednesday.
He noted that public health officials continue to see too many cases with large numbers of contacts and people going out while feeling ill. Many recent cases have been linked to Thanksgiving gatherings, Roussin said.
Although he did not announce any new health orders, Roussin has said he may have to if the health-care system continues to come under strain and if numbers continue their rapid rise.
In recent days, Roussin has begun urging Manitobans not to socialize with people outside their households.
At a news conference Thursday afternoon, Health Minister Cameron Friesen hinted that more restrictions could be announced soon.
"It is clear from the numbers these last number of days that the cases continue to increase, primarily but not exclusively in Winnipeg," Friesen said.
"That causes [Dr. Roussin] to surmise that what we are doing is not yet working to the extent that we would want it to. So that discussion of what to do next is underway right now."
The rising case numbers are also straining hospitals. On Wednesday, Chief Nursing Officer Lanette Siragusa said that if hospitals in Winnipeg reached capacity, patients will be moved between wards and hospitals — and could even be moved to Brandon, Man., as needed.
Hospitals have begun cancelling surgeries due to shortages of staff, some of whom are self-isolating because of exposure to the virus, as well as changes to rules around use of personal protective equipment.
As of Wednesday, there were 37 active cases of COVID-19 among health-care workers in Manitoba, with 32 in Winnipeg, Siragusa said.
The Manitoba Nurses Union said Thursday they knew of 15 nurses at the St. Boniface Hospital, and at least 12 nurses at Victoria General Hospital, who have tested positive.
In addition, eight more nurses at St. Boniface Hospital are self-isolating while they await their test results, meaning a total of 23 are not working right now, said MNU president Darlene Jackson.
The situation has put even more strain on nurses at both hospitals, Jackson said. At the St. Boniface Hospital, there is already a 17 per cent vacancy rate for nursing staff, she said.
Nurses are now seeing their workload more than double in some cases, and are being mandated to work overtime because there is no one available to replace them.
For example, in some units where there would normally be two patients assigned to one nurse for close monitoring, there are now five patients to one nurse, she said.
"It just makes for a situation that has more and more pressure placed on it," she said.
"I would say that nurses are getting increasingly frustrated."
Outbreaks in school, health centre, seniors centre
An outbreak has also been declared at Winnipeg's Collège Louis Riel, which has now confirmed eight cases. Students at the St. Boniface-area school were sent home Wednesday, after four new cases were confirmed. They'll be learning remotely until Nov. 9.
An outbreak at St. Boniface Hospital has grown to 36 people — three more than on Wednesday — with 25 patients and 11 staff members infected. The outbreak has been linked to three deaths.
Meanwhile, an outbreak at Victoria General Hospital has increased by nine cases, with 28 patients and 21 staff members now infected. One person linked to that outbreak died after being transferred to St. Boniface Hospital.
Health officials also declared outbreaks at the Bethesda Regional Health Centre, a hospital in Steinbach, and the KeKiNan Centre Inc. assisted living facility in Winnipeg.
A total of 16 personal care homes in Manitoba have active COVID-19 outbreaks, with 273 cases identified and 27 deaths.
As of Thursday night, 101 residents and 32 staff at Parkview Place in Winnipeg — the site of the deadliest outbreak in a Manitoba care home — had tested positive for COVID-19 since the outbreak began. The number of deaths remained at 19 according to provincial data.
There are 26 active cases at the care home as of Thursday, says a news release from the care home's owner, Revera.
At the Maples Personal Care Home in Winnipeg, the second-largest care home outbreak in the province, 96 residents and 14 staff have tested positive. There were no deaths connected with that outbreak as of Thursday afternoon. The care home is still awaiting the test results for 71 residents and 16 staff who were swabbed earlier this week.
At the KeKinNan Centre Inc., all tenants are currently being tested and no staff have tested positive as of Thursday, said James Heinrichs, executive director of the Winnipeg Housing Rehabilitation Corporation.
Heinrichs said he couldn't confirm how many tenants in the assisted living portion of the KeKinNan Centre had tested positive since tests were still coming back, but said it was more than one.
As of Thursday night, there have been 58 cases identified at provincial jails in Manitoba, including 41 among inmates and 17 among staff. No deaths have been reported.
The worst outbreak remains at the Headingley Correctional Centre where 34 inmates and 10 staff have tested positive to date.
More possible exposures
Manitoba health officials warned of more possible COVID-19 exposures on Thursday:
- Oct. 12-16, 19 and 20: Kidz Korner Infant Childcare Inc. (3708 Roblin Blvd.).
- Oct. 13: Busy Bee Day Care Centre Inc. (646-648 McGee St.). This possible exposure was previously announced, and a case has now been confirmed.
- Oct. 14 and 15: Linwood School.
- Oct. 16: Elmwood High School.
- Oct. 18: Mark's (1580 Regent Ave. W).
- Oct. 19 and 20: Miles Macdonell Collegiate.
- Oct. 20 and 21:
- École Garden Grove.
- General Wolfe School (661 Banning St.).
- Winnipeg Transit Route 15, from Kennedy Street to Sargent Avenue, 8:25 a.m. to 8:40 a.m., and from Sargent Avenue to Kennedy Street, 3:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
- Oct. 28: Collège Louis-Riel.
- Oct. 16 and 20: Margaret Barbour Collegiate.
- Oct. 20: New Avenue Hotel Bar (404 Fischer Ave.).
- Oct. 19 and 20: Opasquia Elementary School.
Ile des Chênes
Oct. 19 and 20: École et Collège régional Gabrielle-Roy.
With files from Rachel Bergen, Bartley Kives and Sarah Petz