All Manitobans “heavily” to be exposed to COVID-19 in coming weeks, health official says
Manitoba health officials say everyone in the province will likely be exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 in the coming weeks, and the government will no longer focus on attempts to limit the spread of the disease.
“COVID-19 is no longer an emerging disease,” said Dr. Jazz Atwal, the province’s deputy chief public health officer.
“It is here to stay, and our ability to contain the virus is limited. It is highly likely that everyone will be exposed to the virus in the coming weeks.”
Instead of focusing on individual cases, public health officials will work to manage risks at the community level, Atwal said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon, alongside Prime Minister Heather Stefanson , Health Minister Audrey Gordon and Dr Joss Reimer, Provincial Medical Officer. vaccine working group.
With the arrival of the Omicron variant, the coronavirus has become much more infectious, with a shorter incubation period, which makes it much more difficult to contain, Atwal said.
“It almost behaves like an entirely different virus,” he said. “We could not have contained this virus.”
The Omicron variant has become the dominant strain of the coronavirus in all health regions in Manitoba, Atwal said.
Province to monitor “system load”
Instead of focusing on the new numbers of cases, the province will instead be monitoring “system load,” Gordon said.
Atwal said that a third of all COVID-19 cases in hospitals right now have been admitted specifically because of the disease. The remaining cases involve people receiving treatment for other conditions but who subsequently tested positive for COVID-19.
Health officials determined the one-third figure by performing a manual review of all patient charts at a Manitoba facility and specifically looking at the reason for admission, Atwal said.
The premier said the province needs to take a more “balanced” approach to how it deals with the virus.
“We’re going to have to learn to live with this longer term. COVID is here to stay,” Stefanson said.
When asked by reporters if public health officials recommend tougher measures, Atwal said they “are providing recommendations to the government, and I think something more should come from the government.”
Responding to the same set of questions, Stefanson said too much responsibility has been placed on public health officials and that she has contacted other groups, including business leaders and pediatricians.
“Ultimately, we will take the advice of public health, but we will also take the advice of other Manitobans in the future.”
Stefanson has been criticized for rarely speaking to the public about the pandemic, with social media hashtags such as #Whereheather and #wheresthepremier popping up.
Criticism intensified this week after 19 more deaths were reported on Monday, without a response from the prime minister.
Province resets focus on vaccinations
As it moves away from efforts to stop the spread of the virus, the province is once again emphasizing the importance of getting vaccinated as the best way to protect against the worst effects of COVID-19.
The province has launched a campaign to encourage eligible Manitobans to get vaccinated against COVID-19, dubbed “Recharge Your Immunity.”
Stefanson was asked on Wednesday whether the government is asking Manitobans to change their expectations for the province’s efforts in the fight against COVID-19.
“What we are asking Manitobans to do is make sure they get vaccinated… that they mitigate their own risk of not contracting this virus,” she said.
Opposition NPD health spokesperson Uzoma Asagwara said the government appeared to be “throwing in the towel.”
“Manitobans may have to learn to live with the virus, but we should never learn to live with a government that lets us down,” she said.
“If we are going through a time when everyone in the province is going to be exposed to the virus, you would expect the government to announce strong measures to strengthen our health care system. “
Increase in hospitalizations
Manitoba’s COVID-19 hospitalizations hit a new high of 454 on Wednesday, with 36 more people admitted to hospitals, three more in intensive care.
The province has also reported 1,478 new cases of COVID-19, the majority, 816, in the Winnipeg health region. However, the number of reported cases significantly underestimates the true number of cases in the province, as positive rapid test results are not included in that number.
102 patients were in intensive care units across Manitoba as of Wednesday, including patients with COVID-19 and those receiving treatment for other problems, a spokesperson for Shared Health said in an email to CBC News .
Manitoba’s critical care baseline capacity before the pandemic was 72.