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This article was published 27/10/2020 (324 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A day after the province's top doctor admonished Manitobans for their cavalier approach to COVID-19, a starker picture emerged Tuesday, as a record 184 new cases and three more deaths were announced, including two patients at St. Boniface Hospital.
A man and a woman, both from Winnipeg and in their 80s, were patients at the province’s second largest hospital when they were diagnosed with COVID-19. A female in her 60s linked to the outbreak at Parkview Place care home also died.
Manitoba's death toll stands at 58.
St. Boniface Hospital is managing an outbreak of the virus which has spread to include three units (B5, E5 and E6) and has infected 23 patients and 10 staff members.
So far, four patients connected to the outbreak have died, including one person who was transferred to St. Boniface from Victoria General Hospital, which is trying to contain an outbreak of its own.
On Tuesday, a spokesperson for St. Boniface Hospital said they would not provide media interviews.
In a written statement, St. Boniface president and chief executive officer Martine Bouchard extended condolences to the families and loved ones of the patients.
"We know this is upsetting news and call on all of our staff to continue (to) find the strength and courage to keep focused on making every effort to contain the spread of COVID-19," Bouchard said.
“We know this is upsetting news and call on all of our staff to continue (to) find the strength and courage to keep focused on making every effort to contain the spread of COVID-19.” — Martine Bouchard, St. Boniface Hospital president and chief executive officer in a written statement
The province reported a number of new pandemic records Tuesday: a five-day test positivity rate of 7.5 per cent, 83 hospitalizations including 15 in intensive care, and 184 new cases of the virus in Manitoba, 144 of them in Winnipeg.
Previously, the greatest single-day increase in cases for the province was recorded on Oct. 14, when 173 cases were reported.
Roughly one incubation cycle, or 14 days, has passed since that date. Single-day increases ranged between 153 and 162 last week.
All health regions reported new cases Tuesday, with 19 in Southern Health-Sante Sud, nine in Interlake-Eastern, eight in the Northern health region, and four in Prairie Mountain. On Monday, 1,721 tests were completed at the laboratory.
The province’s total case count, which sat at 4,532 Tuesday, is expected to top 5,000 by the end of the week, Dr. Brent Roussin, the chief provincial public health officer, said at a news conference Monday.
"It should be clear that these numbers are trending in the wrong direction. If we look at where we were during our first wave, we can see that we let the virus off the hook," Roussin said.
While the outbreaks are increasing pressure on the health-care system, Health Minister Cameron Friesen said "we are not at a breaking point," when asked if Winnipeg hospitals are being overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases.
Contingency plans are in place if and when more hospital beds are needed, Friesen told reporters at the Manitoba legislature Tuesday.
For the last six to eight months, they've had a plan "to be able to avail ourselves of other spaces" and to "decamp patients who would be of less severity to other settings."
Hotels, hockey arenas and gyms are possible settings, Friesen said.
"Manitobans should know that system leaders and medical leaders and administration are hoping for the best but planning for every single option. We have secured spaces." — Health Minister Cameron Friesen
"Manitobans should know that system leaders and medical leaders and administration are hoping for the best but planning for every single option. We have secured spaces."
However, Manitoba Nurses Union president Darlene Jackson said hospital and health-care facilities that are experiencing outbreaks are also having to contend with a nursing shortage as more staff head into self-isolation due to exposures.
Jackson said at least 12 nurses have tested positive for the virus at Victoria hospital, while three have tested positive and at least 14 are in self-isolation at St. Boniface.
"I can tell you that the number of hospitalizations and outbreaks in this situation, it’s very concerning," Jackson said, adding the union continues to advocate for rapid testing of health-care staff.
Late Tuesday, Victoria hospital announced the outbreak on two of its units had grown to 19 patients and 19 staff members.
“In some of these facilities that have been particularly hard hit, nurses have been begging for help for weeks." — Manitoba Nurses Union president Darlene Jackson
Shared Health chief nursing officer Lanette Siragusa will reveal plans to bolster the number of health-care providers and better protect them from the virus at a news conference with Roussin at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday.
"In some of these facilities that have been particularly hard hit, nurses have been begging for help for weeks," Jackson said.
She called for staff working on units with positive COVID-19 patients to be wearing N95 respirators at all times to slow the spread of the virus in hospitals. Currently, Shared Health guidelines call for the protective masks when aerosol generating procedures are being conducted.
"We can flatten the curve and nurses can mitigate the spread of the virus by having up-to-date equipment, up-to-date evidence and having communication that allows them to make good decisions when they’re providing patient care," Jackson said.
As of Tuesday, there were 2,238 active cases in the province, though the number is inflated due to a delay in reporting recoveries.
A spokesperson for the government said at this time, approximately 1,100 of the 2,238 cases are currently "active."
— with files from Carol Sanders
Danielle Da Silva
Danielle Da Silva is a general assignment reporter.