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Hospital admissions for COVID-19 appear to have peaked, says Dr. Brent Roussin

Manitoba’s COVID-19 statistics, such as the number of people admitted to hospitals and intensive care units, are trending in the right direction, says Dr. Brent Roussin, the provincial chief public health officer.

“It seems we’ve had a peak in hospitalizations related to the virus,” he said at a news conference on Friday.

It was the first time Roussin had addressed the public about COVID-19 since April 7, and only the second time since regularly scheduled briefings ended in mid-March.

During the press conference, Roussin said despite the improved outlook, COVID continues to circulate throughout the province.

He announced revised eligibility for booster doses, shorter intervals between boosters and expanded access to the oral antiviral drug Paxlovid.

The current wave of the virus appears to be particularly stubborn and not subsiding as quickly as previous waves, Roussin acknowledged.

“Especially in the hospital and ICU, we see that the numbers in the reports certainly haven’t gone down much,” he said, with almost all sequencing showing that the strain currently circulating is the omicron subvariant BA.2 .

While hospitalizations appear to be on a downward trend, Manitoba appears to be seeing an increase in COVID-19-related deaths.

CLOCK | Full Press Conference on COVID-19 | May 20, 2022:

Manitoba government briefing on coronavirus: April 20

Provincial officials provide update on COVID-19 outbreak: Thursday, May 20, 2022.

The provincial government’s weekly epidemiology report released Thursday showed the total death toll from COVID-19 in Manitoba rose by 66 to 1,913 from 1,847 a week earlier.

At his last regularly scheduled news conference in March, Roussin said the virus is likely to be around for a long time, but Manitoba is in a new phase. The province had lifted its mask mandate a day earlier and lifted vaccination record requirements earlier this month.

At the time, the Manitoba death toll from the virus was 1,721. Since then, 192 more deaths have been attributed to the virus.

Between January 1, 2022 and May 14, nearly four people per day (3.9) have died with COVID-19. That’s almost double the same calendar period in 2021, when the number was 2.1.

Roussin said it’s difficult to say whether COVID was the cause of death or just something coincidental because public health isn’t investigating every case like it used to be.

“It’s always tragic when someone loses a loved one, so not to downplay that in any way, but there’s a good chance we’re seeing things that happen to be related,” he said.

Roussin attributed this to the high contagion rate of BA.2 compared to other strains that were prevalent during previous waves.

About 79 percent of people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 were actually admitted for non-COVID reasons, he said.

Likewise, only about 40 percent of patients in the ICU are actually there for COVID.

“Because of this widespread transmission, there are many accidental infections,” Roussin said. “We will look at ways to better understand this reported increase.”

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