By Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — Data released by the Manitoba government Monday suggested the current COVID-19 pandemic wave has likely peaked, although the health-care system remains stressed.
The number of COVID-19 hospital admissions last week was down 19 per cent from the previous week. New admissions to intensive care units also dropped 19 per cent.
“We’re very much looking forward to having this wave in our rear-view mirror. But we’re not there yet, although we’re headed in the right direction,” said Dr. David Matear, one of the leads of Manitoba’s COVID-19 response team.
The number of people in intensive care, including non-COVID patients, remained at a weeks-long plateau. There were 109 ICUbeds occupied Monday — 37 more than Manitoba’s normal capacity before the pandemic.
“Things in the health-care system are showing signs of slowing, but don’t misinterpret that for anything resembling normal. It’s still very busy,” Matear added.
The province has seen a growing backlog of surgeries and diagnostic tests that have been delayed so that staff can be diverted to intensive care. More people in hospital have been moved to other regions within the province to free up space.
Manitoba has not had to ship intensive care patients to other provinces in the current wave, as it did last spring. The current intensive care capacity is 124 beds, Matear said, and more could be added if needed.
Health officials reported 15 COVID-related deaths over the past three days. Manitoba has seen the second-highest per capita COVID-19 death rate, behind Quebec, since the pandemic started, statistics collected by the federal government show.
The province also announced an expansion of third-dose vaccine eligibility for people aged 12 to 17. Until now, third doses have been recommended for people in that age group who are immunocompromised.
The province, following advice from the national vaccine advisory body, is now adding certain medical conditions, racialized youth, and youths who live in congregate settings such as group homes and correctional facilities.
The third dose should be given at least six months after the second, said Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province’s vaccination effort.