The provincial government announced Oct. 30 that Winnipeg is being moved to the critical/red level under the Pandemic Response System as Manitoba blew away its previous daily high for the number of new cases with 480 positive tests announced.
Chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin said some of the cases – 243 in total – were backlogged results from Oct. 26-28, while 237 were from Oct. 29. The previous highest one-day total was less than 200.
Northern Manitoba also established a new single-day high for the number of new cases, reporting 25 to bring the total since the pandemic began to 155, 89 of which are considered active. There are seven northern residents in hospital due to the virus, none of them in intensive care.
Fifteen of the new cases were in The Pas/Opaskwayak Cree Nation/Kelsey health district, which now has 53 cases, 43 of them active. There were also five new cases in the Thompson/Mystery Lake health district, which now has 40 cases overall, 11 of them active. Two new cases were reported in the Cross Lake/Pimicikamak Cree Nation health district, which now has 14 active cases and 16 overall. There was also one new positive test from the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation/Nelson House health district, one from the Norway House health district and one from an unknown district.
Roussin announced that the Winnipeg metropolitan region will be moved to the critical level beginning at 12:01 a.m. Nov. 2. This will mean that bars and restaurants will be shut down except for takeout and delivery, most stores will be reduced to 25 per cent of their usual capacity, sports and recreation programming will be suspended and gym and fitness facilities will be limited to 25 per cent capacity with masks required even when exercising. Movie theatres and concert halls will be closed, non-urgent and elective surgeries are being suspended and visitors are barred from all Manitoba hospitals, with exceptions made on case-by-case basis for patients receiving end-of-life care, giving birth and in pediatrics.
“We cannot see this level of transmission continue,” said Roussin at the COVID-198 press conference on Friday. "If we don't make a drastic change, we’re going to see our health care system significantly strained."
All other health regions in the province will be moved to the orange/restricted level. The Northern Regional Health Authority (NRHA) has been at the restricted level since Oct. 26.
Roussin said schools are not being closed under the new public health orders because they aren't a source of infections.
"The schools have been quite safe places to be as far as virus transmission goes," Roussin said.
Three more people died from COVID 19 yesterday, bringing the total since the pandemic began to 65.
The number of patients in hospital throughout the province has reached triple digits, with seven new hospitalizations announced on Friday, bringing the total to 104.
Intensive care unit beds are at 96 per cent capacity, with 68 of 71 beds currently in use, 19 of them occupied by COVID-19 patients.
"These numbers are concerning,” said Manitoba chief nursing officer Lanette Siragusa, explaining that this is why some elective surgeries are being postponed in Winnipeg. “We can expect there’s going to be more hospitalizations in the next week or two.”
There is a plan to increase hospitalization capacity, Siragusa said. "We are confident we can create capacity to meet our immediate needs."
However, if the current trend of case increases continues that won't always be true, she said, as the health care system isn't designed to cope with a signifciant proportion of the population getting sick at the same time.
"We will reach a point where our capacity is not able to stretch enough to meet [demand]," if the number of new cases doesn't start dropping, Siragusa said..
As Roussin predicted at the start of the week, Manitoba passed 5,000 cases by the end of it, with the total number of cases since the pandemic began reaching 5,374, with 2,737 of those considered active. Manitoba had the fourth-highest number of active cases in Canada as of Oct. 29, behind only Quebec, Ontario and Alberta. Roussin said the actual number of active cases – anyone who has gone 10 days since symtopm onset and is no longer symptomatic – is likely significantly lower, at around 1,500 cases.