Manitoba’s current COVID-19 public health orders will continue for at least another week, officials announced Friday.
It is necessary to keep the orders in place as the province continues to assess the spread and impact of the Omicron variant, said Health Minister Audrey Gordon and Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin at a press conference.
“As we all learn to live with the virus, it is still crucial that we stay the course in the next week. There are signs of stabilization, but we need more data to fully assess our next steps and implement initiatives that supports our pandemic response, “Gordon said.
The total number of patients in intensive care units across the province – both those with COVID-19 and those who do not have the disease – reached a new high for the fourth wave of 111 on Thursday. On Friday, it was down to one to 110, a spokesman for Shared Health said in an email.
This number far exceeds the province’s pre-pandemic baseline ICU capacity of 72.
As work continues around hospitalization management and intensive care unit capacity, it may be necessary to relocate additional patients outside their home region, the province said in a news release Friday.
The current health orders did not enter into force until 21 December and were extended in early January. They were to expire on February 1, but will now be extended until 1 p.m. 12.01 on 8 February.
Manitoba remains at the limited or orange level under the province’s pandemic response system.
Earlier in the week, it appeared that at least one measure of the pandemic gave some optimism, the current wave is waning in Manitoba.
Wastewater monitoring conducted by the National Microbiology Laboratory suggested that the virus causing COVID-19 was found in the largest quantities in Winnipeg in early January.
In his weekly COVID-19 news update on Wednesday, Roussin said it is still a bit early to finally say whether the Omicron wave is about to ebb. He said it is necessary to look at several goals, including test positivity, the trend in PCR testing and hospitalizations, as well as wastewater.
On Friday, however, new data on Winnipeg wastewater suggested that the virus number could rise again, the province said in its press release.
“A one-week extension of public health orders gives us time to confirm the trend in the COVID-19 data and its impact on our health system,” Gordon said.
More on the way