402 new cases of COVID-19, 4 deaths reported in Manitoba on Wednesday

There are 402 new cases of COVID-19 in Manitoba and four more deaths from the illness on Wednesday as the province reports record numbers of patients in intensive care.

The strain on the health-care system underscores the need for more Manitobans to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated to protect themselves and each other, said the medical lead of Manitoba’s vaccine rollout.

“We are in a race against this virus, against the variants, against the new variants that might come in the future,” Dr. Joss Reimer said at a Wednesday news conference.

“We’re seeing the devastating effects it can have on people, on our health-care system and on our health-care providers.”

Most of the new COVID-19 cases are in the Winnipeg health region, which posted 252 new infections.

There are also 50 new cases in the Southern Health region, 42 in the Prairie Mountain Health region, 40 cases in the Interlake-Eastern Health region and 18 in the Northern Health region.

There have now been 46,314 COVID-19 cases identified in Manitoba, of which 4,550 are considered active and 40,748 recovered.

The total number of Manitobans who have died of COVID-19 is now 1,016.

The deaths reported Wednesday include three linked to the B117 coronavirus variant of concern — a man in his 40s from the Winnipeg health region, a woman in her 80s from the Southern Health region and a woman in her 90s from the Winnipeg region.

The other death reported Wednesday was a man in his 60s from the Winnipeg area, linked to an unspecified variant of concern.

The total number of deaths in Manitoba related to variant strains of concern is now 41. 

The provincial data portal also says 171 more cases involving highly contagious coronavirus variants have been identified since Tuesday. That includes 14 cases of the B1617 variant of concern, which is associated with a surge of cases in India.

The total number of cases involving more contagious variants is now 7,141, with 2,836 considered active.

Record intensive care number

There are now 293 COVID-19 patients hospitalized, up from 278 on Tuesday, the province said.

Of those, 80 are in intensive care. That tops the second wave record of 129 patients and is well above the normal, pre-pandemic capacity of 72 patients, a Shared Health spokesperson said.

The ICU capacity is so stretched, two patients had to be transferred to a Thunder Bay, Ont., hospital on Tuesday because the capacity was at “significant risk,” the spokesperson said.

Manitoba’s five-day test positivity rate grew to 13.5 per cent, from 13 per cent on Tuesday. In Winnipeg, that rate jumped to 15.1 per cent from 14.4.

On Tuesday, 3,166 COVID-19 tests were done in Manitoba.

Manitoba’s daily COVID-19 case numbers, which are usually released at 12:30 p.m., were delayed Wednesday because of technical difficulties, the province tweeted.

Earlier in the day, the province announced second dose appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine will open Friday for priority groups with certain health conditions or compromised immune systems. 

Nearly 12,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered since Tuesday, bringing the total number of shots given in Manitoba to 678,720. Just over 54 per cent of those eligible have had at least one shot, the province’s vaccine dashboard says.

Wednesday’s update comes after Manitoba announced 335 new COVID-19 cases and one death linked to a more contagious coronavirus variant on Tuesday.

WATCH | Full news conference on COVID-19 | May 19, 2021:

Provincial officials give update on COVID-19 outbreak: Wednesday, May 19, 2021. 57:08