Manitoba health officials announced 400 new cases of COVID-19 and 11 deaths today as the number of hospitalized patients continues to rise and strain the health care system.
There is a record 249 people in the hospital, with 40 of them in intensive care.
The five-day provincial test positivity rate also reached a new high of 14.2 percent.
“We have announced the numbers,” said the Chief of Public Health Province Dr. Brent Roussin. “This is a very scary time.”
Roussin alsosaid has had reports that someone is calling businesses, claiming to be him. He said he is not calling businesses directly.
“I think misinformation is a real negative thing right now,” he said. “There is a lot of work out there trying to convince people that this just is not important. It is very clear that our hospitals are reaching capacity.”
The entire province moved to the red code under the provincial pandemic response system just under a week ago, however records continue to be broken every day, hospital beds continue to fill up and community spread is growing.
Investigations into tracking contacts have identified 500 cases in recent days that have no known source of exposure, Roussin said.
A new $ 298 fine could now be issued to people who do not wear masks in enclosed public places, which is required under a current public health order. Breaking other orders, such as a maximum collection size limit of five, can result in a $ 1,296 fine, or $ 5,000 for businesses.
The Prime Minister and Roussin have made a number of efforts recently to increase enforcement in the hope of stopping the spread of the coronavirus.
190 deaths so far
So far, 190 people have died in Manitoba, the vast majority of them since early October. Most were over the age of 60.
Among the deaths announced Wednesday were a man in his 60s, two men in their 80s and two women in their 90s from the Winnipeg health region, including three linked to the Golden Blast LinksLodge.
A woman in her 50s and two men in their 80s from the Southern Health region are among the dead. Two men in their 70s from the Eastern Interlake Health region and a woman in her 80s from the Prairie MountainHealth region also died.
Roussin urged Manitobans not to leave their homes except for essential items, and he stressed that people should not go to stores for Black Friday sales.
He and the Prime Minister have criticized the biggest retailers and big box stores for attracting crowds over the weekend and advertising Black Friday sales this week. Some large box stores that sell a mix of essential and non-essential items were considered critical and able to stay open without any requirement that they restrict non-essential goods.
“We will look at ways we can support those orders to try to make sure that spirit is being followed,” he said, with officials considering order changes that could only allow the sale of essential items.
Half of the people in Manitoba intensive care units are now COVID-19 patients, said Lanette Siragusa, chief nursing officer for Common Health.
Some staff working normally in surgery and other departments are being deployed to medical units to help with COVID-19 cases in hospitals, she said.
“It was disruptive for our staff. It was also really disruptive for our other patients,” she said.
WATCH | Restoring ‘disruptive’ staff, says Siragusa:
Siragusa said 771 non-urgent election operations have been canceled since October 26.
“We just want to acknowledge how difficult it is for people,” she said. “We apologize. Something is something we have to do in the middle of this.”
Anyone in need of urgent services through home care will continue to receive them, though Siragusa said mothers may see disruption as a proven resource for high-priority areas in hospitals.
More than 300 healthcare workers have tested positive for COVID-19 since the end of September, including 83 in the first week of November. Many are removed from rotation for days or longer while awaiting test results after potential exposures.
Explosion of the third unit in the HSC
An explosion was also reported in a third unit, GA3, at the Center for Health Sciences.
So far, 29 patients and 23 hospital staff have tested positive in three unit blasts and two patients have died, Siragusa said.
Conditions at the BethesdaRegional Health Center in Steinbach, a community with some of the highest levels of infection per capita in the country, have begun to improve, Siragusa said. Last week, staff described the situation in the emergency room as hospitalizations in hospitals crumbled.
Siragusa also released details on isolation spaces for homeless or at-risk people who test positively or are waiting for test results. The first page, which has 39 spots, is full; the second space, with 22 points, is close to capacity; and a third, 140-page site will open soon, she said.
Hospital numbers double
Roussin and Siragusa have repeatedly said in recent weeks that healthcare workers are struggling to keep up with the influx of patients and cannot keep up with the rising pace of hospitalization much longer.
The number of people in hospital with the disease has doubled since November 1 from 120 to 249 with nearly three dozen current patients under the age of 50.
The youngest person to die from COVID-19 still in Manitoba, a woman in her 30s from the Interlake-East health region, was reported on Tuesday.
Nearly 90 percent of COVID-19 deaths in the province have occurred since the beginning of last month.
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