Tighter restrictions coming to Manitoba as COVID-19 cases keep surging

Manitobans will face tighter restrictions as COVID-19 cases continue to climb, Premier Brian Pallister announced Thursday morning.

“Case counts spiked after Thanksgiving. Case counts spiked after Easter and spring break. We can’t have the same thing happen after the May long weekend,” he said.

Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief public health officer, will announce those measures later today, the premier said.

They will be in place for the long weekend “to address gatherings as well as staying at home,” Pallister said.

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Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister is giving an update on COVID-19 on Thursday as the province struggles with a lack of intensive care unit capacity that has forced the transfer of some patients to Thunder Bay, Ont.

CBC Manitoba is live streaming the 11 a.m. news conference here and on Facebook, Twitter and CBC Gem.

Three COVID-19 patients were transferred to Thunder Bay — about 600 kilometres east of Winnipeg — earlier this week. The first two were moved out Tuesday as a spike in admissions put the province’s intensive care capacity at “significant risk,” a government spokesperson said.

A third ICU patient was sent to Thunder Bay on Wednesday.

Manitoba has experienced a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases during its third wave and signs are emerging that there is not enough nursing staff to care for the expected influx of critically ill patients in the coming weeks.

Typically, ICU nurses provide one-to-one care with some exceptions, but now they’re caring for up to three patients at Health Sciences Centre, St. Boniface Hospital and the Grace Hospital, although health officials say the sickest patients will still be assigned their own nurse.