As Manitoba public health officials announced 259 new COVID-19 cases and two deaths on Tuesday, they also announced the public health orders put in place for the May long weekend will stay in effect for the remainder of the week.
“Our case numbers remain too high,” said Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer, during a press conference alongside Premier Brian Pallister on Tuesday. “We have nearly 5,000 active cases (with) 69% of those cases occurring in the past seven days.
While Manitoba’s single-day caseload on Tuesday was the lowest since May 3, he strongly cautioned against reading too far into that number until a trend can be established. Roussin pointed to high test positivity rates in the province — 13.8% on Tuesday, a 0.5% drop from Monday — and the heavy strain being placed on the health-care system at the moment.
“Our hospitals are being stretched to the limits right now,” Roussin said. “We need to stay home as much as possible.”
There were 314 COVID-19 patients in hospital on Tuesday, a reduction of four from Monday’s figures. Those admitted into intensive care rose by five, up to 79 in Manitoba ICUs, and not including the 18 that have been transferred to various hospitals throughout neighbouring Ontario.
The 97 Manitobans currently receiving critical care is a new record during the pandemic. Public health said 12 admissions to ICU were made on Monday alone. The province said Tuesday that discussions with Saskatchewan and North Dakota were ongoing to access available ICU beds. Shared Health said a patient could be transferred to Saskatchewan as early as Tuesday.
Four Manitobans were transferred to Ontario ICUs on Monday. There are now Manitobans in eight different towns and cities in Ontario, including Thunder Bay, Ottawa, Sault Ste. Marie, North Bay, Windsor, London, Sudbury and Owen Sound. More patents were tentatively scheduled for transfers on Tuesday.
There were 126 Manitobans total in ICUs across the province as of Tuesday.
“We have to take stronger action, and take that action right now, to end transmission chains, to bring down these case numbers,” Roussin said.
The extension of the long-weekend public health orders means gatherings of any kind outside of households is prohibited, from private gatherings to anything outside, including recreational activities such as golf.
Also, only one household member is allowed in a business at any given time.