ICU doctor cautiously optimistic about looming impact of 4th COVID-19 wave in Manitoba
A Manitoba critical care doctor and infectious diseases specialist remains cautiously optimistic when it comes to the impact of the fourth wave in Manitoba.
It comes as Alberta and Saskatchewan deal with a surge in cases and capacity issues in hospitals.
Dr. Anand Kumar points to Manitoba’s move earlier this summer to reintroduce mask mandates and proof of vaccination requirements and the percentage of eligible Manitobans who are fully vaccinated but he said we’re not out of the woods yet.
“I think we are going to see an increase in activity but my hope is that it will be sufficiently blunted,” he said. “That we don’t see the kind of overwhelming hospital strain and ICU strain that they’re seeing in Alberta and Saskatchewan and that we saw, frankly, back in May and June.”
During the third wave Manitoba’s health system was so overwhelmed, 57 patients requiring critical care had to be sent to either Ontario, Saskatchewan or Alberta.
Now, Saskatchewan and Alberta are dealing with a spike in hospitalizations and not enough beds to care for patients who are mostly unvaccinated.
Kumar said as a health-care provider he’d like to be able to help those two provinces in their time of crisis.
“I think everybody here very much wants to help our friends and neighbours in Alberta but as to whether we can make much of an impact, given where we are, I think that’s very much in question and the powers that be are going to have to make that decision,” Kumar said. “But I have no doubt that every doctor, every nurse, everybody who works in the hospital would very much like to help, if we’re able to.”
Even without a drastic spike in COVID-19 patients, numbers show Manitoba’s intensive care units are already stretched beyond normal capacity.
As of midnight, Shared Health said Thursday there were a total of 81 patients in ICUs with 14 of those patients receiving care for COVID-19. Provincial data shows only one of those patients is fully vaccinated. Before the pandemic, the normal baseline capacity for the critical care system was 72 patients.
So far Manitoba isn’t assisting with surge capacity in the other prairie provinces. Paul Merriman, Saskatchewan’s health minister, said in a statement the province has created its own surge capacity while Alberta will receive assistance from the federal government.
A Manitoba government spokesperson said Thursday conversations are ongoing between provincial health officials and at this point in time Manitoba is offering pharmaceutical assistance to Alberta.