Manitoba says 158 health-care workers on unpaid leave over COVID-19 testing

Manitoba says approximately 158 health-care workers have chosen unpaid leave over being tested for COVID-19, with more than half coming from the Southern Health region.

In a statement Wednesday, Shared Health said the numbers were current to the end of the day Tuesday.

Read more: Manitoba reports 51 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death

Under health orders that took effect Monday, many front-line workers in health care, education and child care must be fully vaccinated against COVID or undergo testing up to three times per week.

Officials said 83 of the workers opting to stay home are from the Southern Health district, 27 are from the Interlake-Eastern Health region, 26 work in the Prairie Mountain Health region, 17 are from the Winnipeg Health region, two work in the Northern Health region, and three are from Shared Health.

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Click to play video: 'Manitoba vaccine requirements likely to be in place until spring: top doctor' Manitoba vaccine requirements likely to be in place until spring: top doctor

Manitoba vaccine requirements likely to be in place until spring: top doctor

The number of health workers reportedly staying home under the new orders has risen from 30 reported by Shared Health Monday and 85 reported Tuesday.

Shared Health says while the vast majority of health-care facilities aren’t seeing significant impacts related to the shortages, Southern Health has needed to redeploy staff to “ensure ongoing quality care services.”

This includes redeploying staff at Eastview Place in Altona and Salem Home in Winker, Shared Health said.

Read more: 85 Manitoba health-care workers on unpaid leave for refusing COVID-19 testing, government says

A few days before the vaccine mandate went into effect, Salem Home sent a letter to families of its residents warning them of potential staff shortages. They warned families the facility may need help with laundry, meals, cleaning and activities — and even go one step further and take their loved ones out of the home — should the staff situation become a problem.

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A spokesperson for Shared Health said designated family members are helping to provide support with feeding and visiting at some sites.

They said additional help is coming from a COVID-19 casual pool of employees and from internationally-educated nurses who have volunteered to provide staffing supports.

“Contingency plans have been and continue to be in place and the staffing impacts continue to be very closely monitored,” the spokesperson said.

Shared Health has previously said the vaccine mandate affects roughly 42,000 health-care workers across Manitoba.

Read more: Winnipeg police say 92% of workforce fully vaccinated less than a month ahead of mandate

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As of Tuesday night, Shared Health says more than 37,000 of the workers have completed voluntary online vaccine disclosure forms, with just over 35,000 of those indicating they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

In all, Shared Health says 1,866 health-care workers across the province have been identified as requiring testing under the new orders as of Tuesday night.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.

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