WINNIPEG -- A Winnipeg doctor is warning that hospitals are 'on the brink' as COVID-19 cases surge in the city.

“We’ve got a lot of cases and a fair amount of transmission in the community and hospitals are going to see some of these cases,” Dr. Philippe Lagacé-Wiens, a physician at the St. Boniface hospital and microbiologist, told CTV News Monday.

There are COVID-19 outbreaks on three units in the Boniface hospital. Twenty-two patients have tested positive, and one person has died. Ten staff members have now contracted the virus.

The province confirmed one surgical team is in isolation.

“The data shows up that ten per cent of people who would get diagnosed end up in hospital. It’s a system that can’t take ten new hospital patients per day, especially if a quarter of them wind up in the ICU,” said Lagacé-Wiens. “That’s going to put a strain on the system.”

The physician wrote a widely shared Facebook post over the weekend, urging Winnipeggers to take public health orders seriously.

“Hospital staff are getting COVID-19 and cannot work,” he wrote. “ICUs are full. We are on the brink. That is what happens when we let our guard down.”


Manitoba’s chief public health nurse Lanette Siragusa said she recognizes the fear and uncertainty facing hospital staff.

“(There are) often individuals and teams going home in isolation, and it does feel like it’s on the brink. It’s an understandable anxiety that that is causing for health care workers,” said Siragusa.

Along with the outbreak at St. Boniface hospital, there is also a rising COVID-19 caseload at Victoria General Hospital.

Twenty-seven people have tested positive, including 14 patients and 13 staff. The cases are connected to two units.

As of Monday, the province has 80 people in hospital, including 15 people in intensive care.

Despite the surging COVID-19 hospitalizations and smaller pool of health care workers, Siragusa said the system can still meet demand. However, preparations are underway if that changes.

“We are working as a system to deploy people to support staff and support patients.”

The Manitoba government may also put surgeries on hold once again to respond to the surge.


The Manitoba Nurses Union said the current conditions are creating a “crushing workload” for nurses.

“We went into this pandemic already in a chronic nursing shortage,” MNU president Darlene Jackson told CTV News Monday.

“This government did really nothing to get prepared for a second wave which has been anticipated. “

Jackson said the province needs to improve contact tracing and transparency. She wants to see the government investigate cases in hospitals more quickly and relay information more quickly.

“I’m not sure that the occupational health departments in these facilities are staffed adequately to keep up with that demand,” said Jackson. “Often communication there is lagging.”

“It’s really just layers and layers and layers of issues that are making this situation even more difficult to deal with,” said Jackson.