Manitoba health officials say more critically ill COVID-19 patients are being sent to Ontario as the province continues to see hundreds of new cases reported daily.
The province announced 312 new COVID-19 cases and one additional death Wednesday. The numbers were released later in the day than usual due to what the province called technical issues.
Manitoba has had to start sending some of its COVID-19 patients in intensive care to other provinces to free up bed space as ICU numbers swell.
Since May 18, there have been 23 ICU patients sent to eight different Ontario hospitals, and more transfers were planned to the province Wednesday, a spokesperson from Shared Health confirmed in an email.
Exactly how many more patients were to be sent to Ontario Wednesday wasn’t clear.
The latest transfers come the same day officials confirmed a Manitoba COVID-19 patient who was being transferred to a hospital in Ontario had died.
Shared Health, the body that co-ordinates clinical care in Manitoba, says the patient became unstable prior to takeoff earlier this week and was immediately returned to the health facility from where they came.
Shared Heath says the patient died the following day.
Meanwhile, another critically ill COVID-19 patient from Manitoba was also scheduled to arrive in Saskatchewan for care Wednesday. That province has said they can take as many as five ICU patients from Manitoba, if needed.
As of midnight Wednesday there were 128 patients in Manitoba ICUs including 74 connected to COVID-19, according to provincial data. The province’s ICU numbers don’t include patients who have been transferred out of Manitoba.
Overall, health officials say Manitoba hospitals are currently caring for 318 patients connected to COVID-19, up four from Tuesday.
On Tuesday Manitoba’s chief nursing officer Lanette Siragusa said the current ICU capacity is 146 patients. She said 12 COVID-19 patients were admitted to ICU Monday alone.
As has been the case for weeks, the majority of Wednesday’s new cases — 240 — were reported in the Winnipeg area, where the five-day test positivity rate is 15 per cent.
Another 34 cases were found in the Southern Health region, 20 were reported in the Interlake-Eastern Health region, 11 were found in the Prairie Mountain Health region, and seven were reported in the Northern Health region.
The latest fatality due to the virus was a woman in her 90s linked to an outbreak at the Holy Family Home in Winnipeg, health officials said.
Manitoba’s COVID-19 death toll remains at 1,035 after health officials said one previously announced death — a man in his 30s from Winnipeg reported Tuesday– has been removed from the list. A provincial release didn’t say why the death was removed.
The current five-day COVID-19 test positivity rate is 13.3 per cent provincially and health officials say 4,792 cases remain active across Manitoba.
Meanwhile the province said 314 new variant of concern cases (VOC) had been confirmed in Manitoba as of Wednesday morning.
According to a provincial online database keeping track of variants of concern, Manitoba has now recorded 9,418 VOC cases, including 2,606 that remain active.
Since the first VOC cases were found in Manitoba in February, the deaths of 55 Manitobans have been connected to the more contagious strains of the virus.
–With files from Brittany Greenslade and The Canadian Press
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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