Manitoba’s COVID transmission rising but intensive-care numbers have steadied: doctor

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WINNIPEG - Manitoba's chief public health officer says there are increasing signs of COVID-19 transmission, but severe outcomes from the virus appear to have plateaued and there are no plans to reimpose public restrictions.

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WINNIPEG – Manitoba’s chief public health officer says there are increasing signs of COVID-19 transmission, but severe outcomes from the virus appear to have plateaued and there are no plans to reimpose public restrictions.

Analysis of wastewater in Winnipeg indicates the virus is spreading at a higher rate, Dr. Brent Roussin said Thursday.

New hospitalization figures show 141 people were admitted with the virus last week — an increase of 30 from the previous week. Most of the recent patients are people who are 80 or older.

Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba chief public health officer, speaks during the province's latest COVID-19 update at the Manitoba legislature in Winnipeg Wednesday, December 16, 2020. Manitoba's chief public health officer says there are signs of increasing COVID-19 transmission, but severe outcomes have plateaued. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

Roussin said other metrics, such as the number of people in intensive care units, have stabilized and are forecast to remain that way or drop slowly.

“We are seeing a decrease in the more severe outcomes such as ICU and death,” he said.

Hospitals continue to be strained by the pandemic. Many patients have been moved to different parts of the province to free up bed space, and the number of people in intensive care, including non-COVID-19 cases, is still above normal pre-pandemic capacity.

The Opposition New Democrats said it is too early for the government to assume the pandemic is winding down.

“There is an unsustainable burden on our health-care system as a direct result of COVID,” health critic Uzoma Asagwara said.

The NDP also criticized the reduced amount of data the government is releasing about the pandemic.

Bulletins and online data updates have been cut to once a week and public data no longer includes details such as the size of outbreaks at hospitals or care homes.

Roussin, in his first news conference in three weeks, said frequent, detailed data is not needed.

“At some point we have to transition away from that intense data reporting to (reporting) less frequently,” he said.

“We’ve been at this for two years. We’ve had, at points, daily updates … this is a virus that is going to be around for a while and we’re going to transition the way we’re reporting on it.”

Nor is Manitoba looking at reinstating an indoor mask mandate, which was lifted last month, Roussin said.

The New Democrats said more data is needed.

“Manitobans are making clear every single day that they want the data, they want the information, so that they can make informed decisions,” Asagwara said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 7, 2022.

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