Some indicators are hinting that the omicron wave of the COVID-19 pandemic may be peaking in Manitoba but the province has extended public health orders by one week before making decisions on loosening restrictions.
“We’re seeing early signs of stabilization and positive indicators that COVID-19 is stabilizing in our province,” Health Minister Audrey Gordon said at a Jan. 28 press conference.
The orders were due to expire on Feb. 1 but will now remain in effect until 12:01 a.m. on Feb. 8.
The orders include limits on indoor and outdoor gatherings in public and private places, as well as capacity limits at gyms, movie theatres and restaurants, but not in stores, except in the southern health region. The number of people allowed at some gatherings depends upon whether there any any unvaccinated people over age 12 present.
Chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin said the government wants to be sure the wave is peaking before making changes.
“Another week of data’s going to give us even more information,” he said. “Our goal is always to loosen restrictions as soon as it’s safe to do so.”
There were 110 adults in intensive care in Manitoba on Friday, about half of them with or recovering from COVID-19 infections.
The number of COVID-linked hospitalizations rose by four from Thursday to 715 and the number of COVID patients in intensive care is 52.
23 more COVID patients died on Thursday and Friday, including a woman in her 60s from Northern Manitoba, a resident of the Cross Lake/Pimicikamak health district, according to the province’s COVID-19 website. 1,543 Manitobans with COVID have died since the pandemic began.
898 new confirmed cases of COVID were announced Jan. 28, though these are just a fraction of the total number of cases due to limited testing. 117 of them were in the north. There are 54 northern residents with COVID in hospital, down one from Thursday, but the number of northerners in intensive care has risen to six.
Dr. David Matear, health system co-lead of the provincial government’s Unified Health Sector Incident Command, said it is possible more patients may be sent outside of their home health regions for treatment if the province needs to ramp up the number of intensive care beds available. In the past three months, over 250 stable patients have been transferred to health care facilities outside their region, including 39 in the past week.
The province announced Jan. 28 that it would cover some of the costs for up to eight visits per month by transferred patients’ designated support persons, including money spent on meals, transportation and accommodations.