Manitoba

Manitoba breaks single-day record with 560 more COVID-19 cases

Manitoba hit a new pandemic high on Thursday with 560 cases, the largest single-day total in the province to date.

Hospitalizations climb to 240 as Manitoba announces 3 more COVID-19 deaths linked to coronavirus variants

Manitoba has been forced to expand its number of intensive care beds as hospitalizations shot up in recent weeks. (Mikaela MacKenzie/The Canadian Press)

Three more people have died and Manitoba hit a new pandemic high on Thursday with 560 cases, the largest single-day total in the province to date.

The previous high of 546 was set on Nov. 23 during the second wave.

The new high comes during a week of worrying milestones.

Manitoba now has the second-highest daily infection rate of all provinces, trailing only Alberta.

The provincial seven-day average for daily cases just breached a record of 421 set last fall; the rate is now 468.

The crush of daily cases over the past month has put dozens in hospital, with Manitoba hitting a new high of 62 COVID-19 patients in intensive care as of mid-week. The number in intensive care remains at 62 on Thursday.

Leaked modelling data from the province predicted Manitoba wouldn't hit that mark for about two more weeks.

The second wave peak for all intensive care patients, the total for COVID-19 and all other conditions, was 129. Pre-pandemic critical care capacity for all of Manitoba was 72 ICU beds, a government spokesperson said.

There are now a total of 118 patients in Manitoba ICUs; 12 are under the age of 40.

Manitoba announced plans last week to add 19 ICU beds to keep up with the rise.

No new COVID-19 units have opened yet, though work is underway to open an additional medical unit at Health Sciences Centre, a spokesperson said.

In another development, number of people in hospital Thursday due to COVID-19 jumped to 240 from 221.

Another outbreak has been declared at Donwood Manor Personal Care Home in Winnipeg, while an outbreak has been declared over at the CN Rail offices at 821 Lagimodiere Blvd.

The provincial test positivity rate is down slightly to 12 per cent. Winnipeg's rate was 14.4 per cent for the second day in a row. 

The total number of cases of more contagious coronavirus variants rose by 388 to 5,210. Of Manitoba's 4,046 active cases, 1,974 are now variants.

So far, 1,002 people have died due to COVID-19, including 29 linked to variants.

The three deaths announced Thursday are all linked to the B117 variant originally detected in the U.K. Those deaths are two women, in their 60s and 70s, from the Prairie Mountain Health region, and a man in his 70s from Winnipeg.

The new cases are primarily in Winnipeg, where 431 people have tested positive. Another 38 are in the Interlake-Eastern Health region, 34 are in Prairie Mountain Health, 30 in Southern Health and 27 in the Northern Health Region.

All Winnipeg and Brandon schools went to remote learning on Wednesday, which is set to last until May 30. Some schools outside those cities have also gone remote due to multiple cases.

Restrictions that came in Sunday brought in tight limits on many businesses and closed others, including churches, gyms and other recreational spaces. They also lowered the number of people allowed to gather in outdoor public places to five.

Provincewide restrictions brought in on April 28 aimed to reduce gatherings and close contacts by prohibiting visits between households, indoors and in yards.

Premier Brian Pallister said he expects positive impacts of the restrictions could begin to show through in the coming week.

"It would be my hope that Manitobans both get vaccinated at their first opportunity and continue to follow public health orders," he said Thursday.

Nearly half of all adults have received at least one dose.

Epidemiologist Souradet Shaw doesn't expect Manitoba's third wave to crest for at least a week or two. He says it's built momentum due to the timing of restrictions and is partly spreading because of the proportion of Manitobans who still aren't vaccinated.

All adults became eligible this week. It's taking between one and three weeks to get vaccinated from the time an appointment is booked. It takes two weeks before immunity starts to kick in.

"You want to skate where the puck is going and not to where it's been, and I think, unfortunately, a lot of jurisdictions have not really followed that advice," said Shaw, University of Manitoba assistant professor and Canada Research chair in program science science and global public health. 

"What we're doing now is sort of just chasing the puck."

The province is expecting 70 per cent of eligible Manitobans will have had at least one dose by June 9. 

Second dose appointment bookings begin May 22 or sooner, officials have said, with the entire second dose campaign expected to wrap up by mid- to late July.

"We have a chance of having the end of our summer being a two-dose summer, if we can get Manitobans to come in and roll up their sleeves and get a shot," Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of Manitoba's vaccine rollout, told Information Radio host Marcy Markusa on Thursday.

An appointment can be booked through the province's website or by calling 1-844-626-8222.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bryce Hoye

Reporter

Bryce Hoye is an award-winning journalist and science writer with a background in wildlife biology and interests in courts, climate, health and more. He recently finished up a stint as a producer for CBC's Quirks & Quarks. He is the Prairie rep for OutCBC. Story idea? Email bryce.hoye@cbc.ca.

With files from Bartley Kives

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