The number of COVID-19 patients requiring an intensive care bed climbed to new heights Sunday — setting a pandemic record for the province — as another 534 infections were reported and four more Manitobans died from the disease.
The number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care was 71, the greatest number reported by the province since the pandemic began. The province reported 70 such patients Saturday.
The Manitoba government said COVID-19 hospitalizations reached a third-wave high, with 258 people being treated for the disease Sunday, an increase of 17 from the day before.
The majority of the people currently in hospital are infectious, the province said. Of the 71 patients in intensive care, 53 were considered active cases; nine were under the age of 40.
In the second wave of the pandemic, the province saw the greatest demand for intensive care related to COVID-19 on Dec. 4, when there were 54 infectious patients in one of four Manitoba hospitals equipped to provide critical care.
However, the total number of COVID-19 patients needing critical care was higher at the time as the province did not begin regularly reporting the number of non-infectious hospital patients until later in December.
Overall intensive care unit capacity peaked last winter on Dec. 19, with a total of 129 patients of all types.
On Sunday, Shared Health said that there were a total of 119 patients, including with COVID-19, in intensive care across Manitoba. The province’s pre-pandemic ICU bed base was 72.
Pandemic modelling released by the Manitoba government on Friday showed intensive care unit stays due to COVID-19 have already exceeded the projected worst case, or extreme, scenario.
That model predicted as many as 124 COVID-19 patients could require critical care by June 21.
On Friday, acting deputy chief public health officer Dr. Jazz Atwal said COVID-19 demand on intensive care units tends to peak about a month after a lockdown is implemented.
Sunday's deaths included a man in 50s from the Northern health region and a woman in her 50s from the Winnipeg health region, both sickened by the highly infectious B.1.1.7 variant, as well as a man in his 50s from the Winnipeg region, and a man in his 80s linked to an outbreak at Holy Family Home in Winnipeg.
A total of 1,010 Manitobans have died from COVID-19.
With 534 new infections on the books, Sunday was the third single-highest day for reported COVID-19 cases.
There were 329 cases in the Winnipeg health region. Southern Health-Sante Sud region also saw a spike in cases, with 84 infections reported.
Due to increased COVID-19 spread in the region, Atwal and Education Minister Cliff Cullen announced Saturday that all schools in the Garden Valley and Red River school divisions would move to remote learning on Tuesday, until at least May 30.
Forty-three cases were reported in Prairie Mountain, and 39 were detected in both the Interlake-Eastern and the Northern health regions.
The five-day test positivity rate was 12.3 per cent provincially — the highest it has been since Dec. 29 — and 14.1 per cent in Winnipeg. On Saturday, laboratories processed 3,682 tests.
The province said a new mobile testing site will open at 1181 Portage Ave. in Winnipeg today.
Also Sunday, the province reported 11,022 more doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been administered, bringing the total number of doses given since mid-December to 649,264.
So far, 51.6 per cent of the adult population in Manitoba has been partially or fully vaccinated against the disease. As of Sunday, the province had used 84.5 per cent of the vaccine supply it had received from the federal government.
An additional shipment of 73,700 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is expected early this week, and another 37,600 doses of Moderna vaccine will arrive Thursday or Friday.
Manitoba will also get another shipment of the AstraZeneca vaccine this week, which will be reserved for second doses.
Provincial officials said appointments for second doses will open by May 22, if not sooner.
Danielle Da Silva
Danielle Da Silva is a general assignment reporter.