The third wave seems to have reached its peak in Manitoba, but there is still rough water ahead
After witnessing the third wave of COVID-19 surge out of control, Manitoba has reached a confusing point where positive pandemic indicators have emerged as the hospital crisis worsens.
As of Tuesday, a record number of 109 Manitoba COVID-19 patients were severely ill and required intensive care. This included 37 patients who were transferred to hospitals outside the province because Winnipeg and Brandon were unable to adequately treat them.
The total number of COVID patients currently admitted to the ICU is not surprising. The number of severe COVID patients is in line with the province’s forecast announced in mid-May.
In the coming weeks, ICU numbers may climb further, as only a small percentage of the 12,000 Manitoba people who contracted COVID-19 in May are sick enough to require intensive care.
The good news is that the number of new cases has finally decreased. The third wave of pandemic seems to have reached its peak, at least in terms of new infections.
Manitoba reached the peak of the third wave on May 22, when the 7-day average daily number of cases reached a pandemic high of 482 new infections.
The average number of cases fell to 327 in the 7-day period on Tuesday. It dropped by a third in only 10 days.
This trend is likely to continue due to pandemic restrictions and the steady increase in the number of COVID-19 vaccinations. As of Tuesday, 62% of Manitoba people 12 years and older had at least one injection.
However, although there are fewer and fewer people who are sick now, more people who are already sick are dying.
Province is still experiencing the worst outbreak
It may take several weeks for the pressure in the intensive care unit to subside and the Manitoba Shared Health Center to stop airlifting ICU patients to Ontario.
Once the emergency valve is no longer needed, the hospital will not get out of the predicament, but the end of the emergency transfer will show that the pandemic situation in the province has changed from despair to critical.
Until then, it is too early for public health officials to consider drastically reducing restrictions.
Allow 500 fully vaccinated medical staff to participate in the second round of the Winnipeg-Montreal Stanley Cup playoffs tonight. For a province still suffering from the worst COVID-19 outbreak in Canada or the United States, It seems to be a symbolic gesture.
“I think we should see this as some small optimistic sign that we can start to recover in Manitoba,” Governor Brian Pallister said at a news conference on Tuesday.
As the pandemic approaches its 15th month, it is fair to say that neither optimism nor pessimism should play any role in the province’s pandemic response. Only pandemic indicators are important.
Whenever policymakers ignore data—especially the ever-increasing number of cases, positive test rates, and hospitalization rates—the entire province pays for it.
This occurred during the second wave of the epidemic in October, when the public health department found that the number of cases exceeded the worst-case scenario, but responded with a series of ineffective targeted restrictions.
It occurred during the third wave of the epidemic in April, when another exponential rise in cases was met with a similar, tepid response.
‘We have been at peaks and troughs’
On Tuesday, Pallister broke this record by winning some analogies and losing some analogies.
He said: “I mean, in this pandemic, we have done better than everyone in many cases, but in some cases we have done worse than everyone.”
“I mean, we have been at peaks and troughs, right?”
This statement deserves careful scrutiny. In the first five months of the pandemic, when COVID-19 mainly passed through the prairies, Manitoba’s performance was only better than most other provinces.
The second wave of outbreaks in Manitoba claimed the lives of hundreds of residents in personal care homes, the highest death rate per capita in Canada.
Since August 2020, many people in the province have died of COVID-19, and Manitoba continues to have the second highest pandemic mortality rate in Canada. We have 77 deaths per 100,000 people, second only to 130 in Quebec.
During the third wave of the pandemic, characterized by more contagious variants that infect younger patients, the infection rate in Manitoba reached the second highest level in Canada since the beginning of the pandemic. At the peak of the third wave, only Alberta had a higher infection rate.
However, after our hospital was overwhelmed, Manitoba alone was forced to transfer COVID-19 patients to intensive care units in other provinces.
On Tuesday, Pallister suggested that Manitoba should not take any different measures to stop the third wave.
He said: “This happened not because of lack of preparation.”
“I think that when we analyze in the next few days, we will determine the different realities in Manitoba, but not in other parts of the country. These realities have already caused some negative effects of COVID, which can affect certain populations. Spread faster.”
The prime minister did not elaborate on what made the third wave so severe in the provinces.