WINNIPEG -- Manitoba Health will officially scale back elective surgeries across the province, as the number of COVID-19 cases and patients requiring intensive care continues to rise.

During a news conference on Friday, Lanette Siragusa, Shared Health’s chief nursing officer, confirmed 19 ICU beds will be added to Grace Hospital, St. Boniface Hospital, Health Sciences Centre and the Brandon Regional Health Centre.

“While our efforts to train and recruit new critical care staff over the recent months will help support some of this expanded capacity, in order to staff these beds appropriately, we are going to have to make the difficult decision to reduce clinical activity in some places,” Siragusa said.

Siragusa said surgical units will continue to prioritize urgent surgeries, such as trauma, cancer and life-threatening conditions, but they’ll have to look at all surgical activity closely.

“We’re going to need to be prioritizing on a day-by-day and case-by-case basis,” she said, adding that some surgeries may have to occur outside of Winnipeg.

“The impact on surgery in the coming weeks is likely to once again be significant,” Siragusa said.

“As we reduce surgical volumes to allow for an increase in critical care capacity, and patients whose appointments are affected, we'll hear directly from their care team, if there is a change in their appointment or their care plan.”

This news comes after hospital memos, obtained by CTV News Winnipeg, told staff to begin reducing surgical capacity, noting some wards might have to be converted to COVID-19 wards.

ICU admissions have been steadily increasing in Manitoba as the third wave of the pandemic continues. As of Friday, there are 118 patients in intensive care, including 57 people who have or are recovering from COVID-19. Six of these COVID-19 patients are under the age of 40.

During the pandemic’s second wave, the peak number of ICU patients in Manitoba was 129.

“That's been our line in the sand working number, and we are getting close to that,” Siragusa said. “The numbers that we're seeing come in, admitted to ICU, especially this last week, have been high. And when we look at if we sustain those high admission numbers, over the next days, not even weeks, we could reach that number.”

Siragusa said on Sunday, 10 patients were admitted to the ICU, the highest admission rate to date.