COVID hospitalizations up heading into long weekend
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 14/04/2022 (422 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
COVID-19 hospital admissions were on the rise ahead of the holiday long weekend in Manitoba, as public health reported a jump in infections and test-positivity rates.
The provincial government’s weekly epidemiology report shows 177 Manitobans were admitted to hospital with COVID-19, including 19 to intensive care, between April 3 and 9. Hospital admissions grew by 25 per cent from the week earlier.
Doctors Manitoba spokesman Keir Johnson said physicians have seen a gradual increase in the number of people who show up at hospitals in need of care for COVID-19, while Omicron and its more infectious BA.2 variant spreads unrestrained in the community.
“With COVID-19 circulating and so many Manitobans still at risk for severe illness or death, it is important to continue following public health recommendations to avoid spreading the virus, such as staying home when sick, wearing a mask, and staying up to date with your vaccinations,” Johnson said.
The number of infections confirmed in the province last week increased by 24 per cent, to 1,694 from 1,359.
The Manitoba government has ceased providing daily, and timely, updates related to the pandemic and has switched to a weekly summary report that is up to five days old.
Test-positivity rates also increased to 20.7 per cent from 18.6 per cent, week over week. Laboratory testing has been limited to people admitted to hospital, who display symptoms while admitted, and a select number of high-risk groups.
(As of Friday, all provincial test sites will close with laboratory testing only available through primary care clinics.)
As people prepared to gather over the long weekend — marking the first restriction-free Easter and Passover in two years — Winnipeg epidemiologist Cynthia Carr said the public should expect the upward trend to persist.
“We’re already seeing positivity going up, hospitalizations are going up, and again our vaccination now is very much lagging in terms of that optimal protection against the worst-case outcomes,” Carr said.
The packed grocery stores in advance of the snow storm this week, followed by gatherings over the long weekend, could amplify the presence of COVID-19 in the community, Carr cautioned.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s what happens related back to these situational events,” she said.
The National Collaborating Centre for Infectious Diseases published new wastewater surveillance data for the City of Winnipeg, ending April 7. By monitoring SARS-CoV-2 remnants in sewage, experts can see early changes in the spread of COVID-19 in the community.
Carr said the updated charts show the viral load is rising, though the rate of increase seems to have slowed.
“The good news was that there seemed to be a levelling off a little bit,” Carr said. “My concern is the good news can be impacted by our less-than-optimal uptake in booster shots.”
A request for comment from chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin was declined Thursday. Instead, a provincial spokesperson pointed to remarks made by Roussin last week.
Manitobans need to assess their own risks based on their personal circumstances as they plan get-togethers with friends and family, the spokesperson said.
“There is really nothing new to add to the comments already made, and in fact, with current weather circumstances, there may be other reasons not to get together this weekend anyway,” the spokesperson wrote in an email to the Free Press.
Last week, Roussin advised Manitobans that COVID-19 was gaining a greater foothold while pandemic modelling projected a “relative plateau” in hospitalizations, with intensive care unit admissions levelling off more noticeably over the coming week. He urged people to ensure they were up to date with their immunizations.
As of Thursday morning, 94 patients were receiving critical care for COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 illness. The government has stopped distinguishing between the two, or providing total COVID-19 hospitalization numbers.
“While provincial data released today shows an increase in new admissions involving patients who are COVID-positive, the system continues to have capacity to care for these patients while slowly returning redeployed and reassigned staff to their regular duties,” Shared Health said in a statement.
The provincial health authority said all staff who were redeployed to assist in the COVID-19 response are tentatively scheduled to return to their positions by the end of the month.
At the end of March, 146 health workers were still redeployed away from their regular duties. Updated figures were not provided Thursday.
As of Thursday morning, 74 patients were still in hospital outside of their home health region to free up medicine beds for COVID-19 patients and other higher acuity needs in Winnipeg.
Sixteen patients have been moved since March 16, the spokesperson said. No patient was moved in the past week.
Danielle Da Silva
Danielle Da Silva is a general assignment reporter.