WINNIPEG -- Manitoba's first glimpse at COVID-19 modelling data in the second wave shows that minimal COVID-19 restrictions and poor compliance could lead the province down an extreme path that will overwhelm the health-care system.

On Friday, the province released COVID-19 modelling data which gives residents a look at how the pandemic will impact Manitoba.The modelling simulates the spread of COVID-19 cases up to the end of December, and the implications those cases will have on the health-care system.

"It really simulates the lives and decisions of all 1.4 million Manitobans," said Dr. Brent Roussin, the chief provincial public health officer.

Roussin said the modelling only provides projections about three weeks into the future, anything further than that will not be accurate.

He said for every 48 cases of COVID-19, on average, there are three people hospitalized and one death. He said the second wave of COVID-19 in Manitoba has been "substantially greater" than the first wave that hit the province in the spring.

Manitoba COVID-19 Modelling

"Our curve at present is far beyond what we are able to sustain in the health-care system," Roussin said. "We are seeing more cases in a single day than we experienced in the entire first wave."


Manitoba Public Health has mapped out four scenarios for Manitoba this December: Extreme, severe, moderate, and controlled.

The extreme scenario gives a snapshot of what the province would look like with minimal restrictions and poor compliance, which could lead to a rapid rise in cases.

Under this scenario, the province is projected to hit 825 daily cases of COVID-19 by Sunday. However, that number could range as low as 419 daily cases to as high as 1,055. The worst-case scenario projects Manitoba will hit nearly 1,500 daily cases of COVID-19 by the end of December.

COVID-19 modelling

"Additional measures put in place this month aim to change that trajectory," Roussin said, citing province-wide restrictions that went into effect on Nov. 12.

Manitoba's severe scenario models the COVID-19 impact with some restrictions in place and poor compliance, which could lead to an increase in cases.

In the worst case of this scenario, Manitoba is projected to hit more than 500 cases daily by the end of December, averaging around 250 total daily cases.

The moderate scenario gives a snapshot of the province with more restrictions and good compliance. Public health said this scenario would lead to a manageable number of cases.

The controlled scenario is the best-case option. It gives a look at the province under full restrictions such as a lockdown, and good compliance to those restrictions. This scenario projects a decrease in cases.


"As we see more cases, we are going to see more hospitalizations and unfortunately more deaths," Roussin said, adding this is "tragic, but predictable.”

Currently, Manitoba is on the upper end of the moderate scenario when it comes to hospital admissions for COVID-19 patients to clinical beds and ICU beds.

Hospitalizations and ICU admissions during the majority of October and November were on the low-end of the severe scenario.

COVID-19 modelling

The moderate scenario estimates approximately 25 daily admissions, and more than 50 ICU admissions by the end of December.

The extreme scenario estimates hospital admissions could reach more than 750 daily admissions and more than 200 ICU admissions by the end of December.

"Even in the current trajectory, case counts are still too high for our health system to be able to support the resulting pressure on hospitals and intensive care units for days and weeks on end," Lanette Siragusa, the chief nursing officer with Shared Health said.

"The restrictions in place now are trying to avoid a catastrophic impact on our health system’s capacity, but this kind of event would not only impact COVID-19 patients."

Had far-reaching restrictions not been put in place across Manitoba, COVID-19 patients would have filled ICU to 100 per cent capacity on Nov. 23 – this is not including other non-COVID patients.

COVID-19 modelling

With these restrictions, COVID patients accounted for less than 50 per cent of ICU's capacity on Nov. 23.

Siragusa said planning is underway to expand critical care to accommodate 173 ICU patients, which is 240 per cent of its normal pre-pandemic capacity.


"Right now we are at a critical place – we are following scenario one, extreme," Roussin said, adding the current numbers are part of an "unsustainable curve."

Manitoba's current case numbers are in the low range of the severe scenario, but Roussin said it is too early to tell what scenario the province will fall into during December.

It has been just over three weeks since the province was placed under code red restrictions. Roussin said the modelling is not showing a significant and sustained downward change to case numbers or hospital admissions.

Brent Roussin

(Source: THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods)

He said Manitobans can still achieve the moderate or controlled scenarios, but lifting restrictions now would likely lead to a severe scenario.

The current health orders in Manitoba are set to expire on Dec. 11, but Roussin said it is likely these restrictions will need to remain in place.

"We do not enter this situation lightly, and we, like all Manitobans, are watching closely to identify when we can begin to loosen some of these restrictions," he said, urging Manitobans to continue following the health orders.

You can view the full modelling data below: