Manitoba has fallen behind on reporting COVID-19 deaths, new data from public health show.
On Thursday, the province reported an additional 66 deaths due to the disease caused by the novel coronavirus in its weekly epidemiology report.
According to provincial data, Manitobans who died from COVID-19 as early as Feb. 27 were only acknowledged by public health last week.
A total of 1,913 Manitobans have now died from COVID-19, including 16 people between May 8 and May 14; another 15 previously unreported deaths occurred the week prior and were added to totals this week.
Based on reconciled data, 227 Manitobans died from COVID-19 between Feb. 27 and May 14.
The provincial government did not explain the significant delay in reporting other than to say public health is working with changing and dynamic data files.
"Numbers are subject to change. Missed events in the current report due to reporting delays will be included in later reports when data become available," a government spokesman said in a statement.
Manitoba public health staff are dealing with a lot of data and doing their best to provide context when they can, the spokesman said.
Chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin is scheduled to hold a media availability Friday morning to update Manitobans on COVID-19 and vaccination programs.
Health Minister Audrey Gordon was in Thompson to meet with health-care leaders and unavailable to answer reporters’ questions, her press secretary said.
In a statement, a government spokesperson extended condolences to all families who lost loved ones in the pandemic.
"We have the utmost respect for Public Health and public health officials, and they have advised our government that they are currently working on how to better understand the number of factors affecting the COVID-19 mortality numbers," the statement said.
NDP Leader Wab Kinew also expressed condolences for the families and friends of Manitobans who have died from the disease. He said the delays in data reporting could be a symptom of a underfunded public health unit.
"We have seen real challenges in Manitoba that should never get in the way of us understanding that the pandemic is still with us," Kinew said. "Through it all, I think there have been legitimate concerns raised about the necessary independence and resources for public health in Manitoba."
Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont said the quality of the data being provided to Manitobans on the COVID-19 pandemic is "terrible."
"They’ve been backdating deaths in ways that I just don’t understand. We need clear reporting," Lamont said. "The fact that public health has just seemingly, pretty much vanished is an indictment of this government."
In the past week, there were 728 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the province, down from 902 in the previous week. Testing also decreased, while test positivity rose to 18.5 per cent from 17.6 per cent.
Danielle Da Silva
Danielle Da Silva is a general assignment reporter.