Manitoba reports 11 health-care facility outbreaks, another 28 COVID-19 deaths

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There are 11 new COVID-19 outbreaks in health-care facilities and a slight increase in the number of hospital admissions in the most recent weekly report on the pandemic in Manitoba.

There were 196 hospital admissions from May 1 to 7, compared to 185 last week, a six per cent increase.

Another 13 patients were admitted to intensive care units, including one patient younger than 10. 

The total death count rose by 28 to 1,847 deaths in Manitoba since the start of the pandemic.

Lab tests confirmed 902 new cases of COVID-19, a decrease from 1,042 the previous week. This is an undercount due to limited access to polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing. The province does not track positive rapid antigen tests.

Manitoba’s test positivity rate on the PCR tests was 17.6 per cent, down from 20.7 per cent the previous week.

Labs completed a daily average of 832 tests.

The most recently reported outbreaks are at the following health-care facilities:

  • Southeast Personal Care Home, House 4.
  • Southeast Personal Care Home, House 1.
  • St. Boniface Hospital, A6S.
  • St. Boniface Hospital, B5ME.
  • Russell Personal Care Home.
  • St. Paul’s Nursing Home.
  • Actionmarguerite St. Boniface, first floor.
  • Poseidon Care Centre, second floor.
  • Rest Haven Care Home.
  • Flin Flon Personal Care Home.
  • Minnedosa Personal Care Home.

Deaths up in 2022

The number of COVID-19 deaths in Manitoba is up this year compared to 2021.

As of May 7, 455 Manitobans have died. That works out to an average of 3.6 COVID-19 deaths per day in 2022 to date.

During the same 127-day period at the start of 2021, 320 Manitobans died of COVID, or 2.5 per day.

Jason Kindrachuk, a virologist and Canada Research Chair at the University of Manitoba, said the latest data shows COVID-19 is still here, prevalent and more transmissible than it was in 2020 and 2021.

Jason Kindrachuk is an assistant professor and Canada research chair in emerging viruses at the University of Manitoba (Jaison Empson/CBC)

However, while many people are still getting infected, he says the health-care system doesn’t appear to be under the same overall stress as past waves. That’s in part due to the number of people with three and four doses of COVID-19 vaccines, he said. Those with two also retain antibodies, despite declining immunity.

“What we’re starting to see is maybe that shift … [to a] lot of mild disease and asymptomatic disease in people who are well protected, but we’re also seeing those severe consequences in those high-risk groups,” said Kindrachuk.

Despite having pharmaceutical interventions such as vaccines and anti-retroviral medication for treating COVID-19 infections, the near total absence of public health mitigation measures, waning immunity and the emergence of new variants are all tied to continued outbreaks and deaths in Manitoba, said Kindrachuk.

“The unfortunate reality is we’re learning yet again the pandemic is not over with us. We want it to be — certainly we’re in a different place than we were in 2020 and 2021 — but the virus is still out there,” he said.

“The more opportunity we give the virus to move around in populations, the more it’s going to find people that are vulnerable to severe disease, and we’re going to see continual fatalities.”

A government spokesperson says Manitoba Public Health is working to understand the current number of COVID-19 deaths, the changes associated with different COVID-19 waves “and the recent change to COVID-19 death definition.”

A spokesperson with Health Minister Audrey Gordon’s office offered condolences to families who have lost loved ones to COVID-19 and expressed “the utmost respect for Public Health and Public Health officials.”

Those officials “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.

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