Lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in Shamattawa health district increase

Province releases modelling projections for cases and hospitalizations

The provincial government reported that there were 30 new cases of COVID-19 in the Northern Regional Health Authority (NRHA) Dec. 4, though the online dashboard shows the total number of cases went up by 22 from yesterday.

The bulk of the new cases in the north were in the Shamattawa/York Factory/Tataskweyak/Split Lake health district, where there were 14 new cases reported since yesterday. The actual number is reportedly much higher, driven by an outbreak in Shamattawa, where close to 100 people had already received positive results from rapid tests by earlier this week, many of which have yet to be confirmed by laboratory testing. A new possible exposure was reported at the community’s Northern Store from Nov. 26 to Dec. 1 when two confirmed cases who may have been infectious were at the location, though the overall risk of transmission is deemed to be low by Manitoba public health.

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There were also six new COVID-19 cases reported in the Island Lake health district, which now has 98 active cases.

Across the province, 320 new positive tests for COVID-19 were reported on Friday, pushing the total number of cases in Manitoba since the pandemic began past 18,000. There were 361 COVID-19 patients in hospital Dec. 4, including 19 from the NRHA. Fifty-five of those patients are in intensive care, including four from the north, and 43 of those patients were on ventilators. Overall, there are 116 patients in critical care for all reasons in Manitoba, said chief nursing officer Lanette Siragusa, representing 161 per cent of the pre-pandemic intensive care capacity of 72 patients. These numbers are having an effect on health care workers, she said.

“They are tired, they are fatigued, they are stressed by the changes and the intensity that is upon them,” Siragusa said, noting that although there is a plan to expand to as many as 173 intensive care beds, the health care system’s major vulnerability is staff, who are risk of contracting COVID-19, missing work due to other illnesses and suffering from fatigue. “We need to protect those who will care for us when we need them.”

Nine more deaths due to the virus were reported on Friday, pushing the total number since the pandemic began to 362, close to 300 of which have occurred since the end of October. There have been 51 deaths reported in the first four days of December, close to the total number of deaths in the province in the month of October.

The five-day test positivity rate is 13.4 per cent provincially and 14.6 per cent in Winnipeg.

Modelling projections based on the number of COVID-19 cases in the province up to Nov. 30 were presented by Siragusa and chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin at Friday’s news conference. Up to the end of last month, for every 48 positive tests for COVID-19, three people were hospitalized and one person died, Roussin said. 

There could be as many as five to 10 times as many cases of COVID-19 in the province than have been diagnosed and currently the number of cases is within the range of the extreme modelling scenario, though the last few days the number of new cases has been at the lower end of that range.

“It’s too early to say we are changing trajectory,” said Roussin, who said there have been six schools in the province with more than five cases of COVID-19 where outbreaks were not declared and another six schools where there was evidence of in-school transmission.

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