Winnipeg Free Press

Delivering Crucial Information.
Right Here.

Support this work for just $3.92/week

Two hospital outbreaks in Winnipeg and record COVID-19 hospitalizations have given rise to worry front-line resources will be stretched to their breaking point.

Manitoba's COVID-19 hospitalization number hit a new high Friday at 51 patients, with eight of those in intensive care. Winnipeg is dealing with 39 of those cases (six in ICU), and outbreaks have been declared at Victoria General and St. Boniface hospitals.

"As we know, hospitalization rates typically lag behind overall case numbers, but now we’re starting to see rising numbers there as well, which will put more strain on the health-care system," Manitoba Nurses Union president Darlene Jackson said Friday.

Officials reported 163 new COVID-19 cases (128 of them in the Winnipeg district) on Friday, raising the provincial total to 1,855 active cases (1,518 in Winnipeg).

The city's five-day test-positivity rate rose to 7.2 per cent — well above the five per cent threshold set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which indicates the rate of infection is under control.

"Clearly, government has not yet done enough to change the upward trajectory," Jackson said in an email.

Testing appointments expanded

Starting Monday, appointments will be available for COVID-19 testing sites in Dauphin, Swan River, Brandon (Keystone Centre site), Winkler, Steinbach, Portage la Prairie, Flin Flon, The Pas and Thompson.

The new scheduling system for COVID-19 tests is only for people with symptoms. Appointments are expected to take about five minutes for adults and 10 minutes for children. People are asked to arrive about 10 minutes early for their appointment to allow time to check in. Bring a health card or government-issued identification.

To make an appointment call 1-855-268-4318 (toll-free) or go online here.

 

Starting Monday, appointments will be available for COVID-19 testing sites in Dauphin, Swan River, Brandon (Keystone Centre site), Winkler, Steinbach, Portage la Prairie, Flin Flon, The Pas and Thompson.

The new scheduling system for COVID-19 tests is only for people with symptoms. Appointments are expected to take about five minutes for adults and 10 minutes for children. People are asked to arrive about 10 minutes early for their appointment to allow time to check in. Bring a health card or government-issued identification.

To make an appointment call 1-855-268-4318 (toll-free) or go online here.

Appointments are available at testing centres at 604 St. Mary’s Rd., 2735 Pembina Hwy. and 1181 Portage Ave. in Winnipeg.

Since Oct. 19, more than 1,500 appointments have been made by phone, and 760 online in Winnipeg. Call volumes are being managed, and most people are able to make same- or next-day appointments.

Appointments are not required at drive-thru locations.

The province hadn't adequately prepared for the second wave of the virus now washing over Winnipeg, even though most epidemiological models projected its arrival, the head of the nurses union said.

"They did not do enough to recruit nurses and other health-care professionals, and there wasn’t enough capacity added to public health for testing and contract tracing. Now, we worry front-line resources will be stretched to their breaking point," Jackson said.

The province reported Friday its 48th COVID-19 fatality: a man in his 80s who was a resident of Parkview Place. He marked the 15th death connected to an outbreak at the Winnipeg long-term care home.

Outbreaks were also reported at four more facilities in the city: Holy Family Home, Concordia Place, Saul & Claribel Simkin Centre, and Maples long-term care home.

It raises the number of Winnipeg care homes experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks to 14.

In an attempt to keep the number of infections from rising, all care homes in Winnipeg were elevated to critical (red) level of pandemic restrictions on Oct. 15.

At that time, Manitoba's five-day test-positivity rate was 4.9 per cent, with 25 people in hospital (five in ICU).

The 14 personal care homes in Winnipeg with outbreaks:

Click to Expand

• Actionmarguerite

• Beacon Hill Lodge

• Calvary Place

• Concordia Place

• Golden West Centennial Lodge

• Heritage Lodge

• Holy Family Home

• Maples

• Meadowood Manor

• Misericordia Place

• Middlechurch Home

• Parkview Place

• St. Norbert

• Saul & Claribel Simkin Centre

All patients are screened for symptoms and exposure to COVID-19 upon arrival at health-care facilities, a spokeswoman for the province said.

"Those who are symptomatic or who answer 'yes' to exposure or close-contact questions are tested, including both those who require admission and those who are treated and released," she said.

Anyone admitted from a facility or community with a known and ongoing outbreak will also be tested, the spokeswoman said.

Sentinel (random) asymptomatic testing for surveillance purposes remains underway in certain locations and populations, but isn't in place for all admissions to acute care, she said

Hospital staff must self-screen prior to arriving at work. Those who are symptomatic are directed to seek testing and guided by occupational health services about what to do in each case, the spokeswoman said.

"Staff continue to wear universal personal protective equipment, which is proving effective at preventing the transmission of this virus when worn correctly."

There are 51 people in hospital with COVID-19 in Manitoba, 39 of them in Winnipeg. Outbreaks have been declared at Victoria General and St. Boniface (above) hospitals.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

There are 51 people in hospital with COVID-19 in Manitoba, 39 of them in Winnipeg. Outbreaks have been declared at Victoria General and St. Boniface (above) hospitals.

COVID-19 testing for all hospital admissions would be ideal, but testing capacity is severely limited at the moment, Jackson said.

The provincial government had months to prepare but dragged its feet and refused to invest in proper equipment, she said.

"The lack of preparation is inexcusable."

Nurses are seeing many programs and facilities that were already struggling with vacancies and short-staffing now trying to contain outbreaks, she said, making it even harder to maintain baseline staffing and fill vacant shifts.

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders
Legislature reporter

After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.

   Read full biography