February 24, 2022
COVID-19 related demands on Manitoba’s health system continue to decrease following the pandemic’s fourth wave, enabling Manitoba to prepare for a return to more normal activities and operations including the resumption of many health services that have experienced delays or been postponed over the past two years, Health Minister Audrey Gordon announced today.
“Now is the time to prepare for a return to normal,” said Gordon. “This pandemic has taken a significant toll on all Manitobans and together, we can look forward to a co-ordinated and cautious plan to recover from the intense demands that it has had on our health system.”
The plan will see a gradual return of health-care workers who have been redeployed to support the pandemic response, the minister added.
Manitoba’s provincial COVID-19 health incident command developed a phased approach to resuming services, including surgical slates, diagnostic procedures and outpatient or community services that were reduced when health-care workers were redeployed to support care of COVID patients.
“There are currently more than 500 health-care workers across the province who are supporting COVID-related care in an area where they would not usually work,” said David Matear, health system co-lead, Unified Health Sector Incident Command. “As COVID admissions to hospital, including critical care, continue to decrease we will be able to return many of these staff to their usual duties, allowing for the quick resumption of many services that we know Manitobans have been waiting for.”
The plan, which will include provincial prioritization by clinical leaders to ensure the most urgent services resume first, will see services resume over the coming months as staff is able to be returned from redeployment to their home facility or unit.
A number of indicators will continue to be monitored closely, including hospitalization rates, COVID-19 ICU admissions and overall capacity, to ensure the system is able to quickly shift resources to support care for any significant increase in COVID-19 demands.
Key COVID-19 indicators in Manitoba show the province’s fourth wave activity has peaked and is on the decline with stable ICU and hospital admissions, noted the minister. Effective March 1, the province is removing proof of vaccination and testing requirements for designated public sector employees, including education, child-care and health-care workers.
“Our province continues to move in the right direction when it comes to COVID-19, which means we can continue to reduce the public health restrictions,” said Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer. “Manitobans have stepped up to get vaccinated and taken steps to keep themselves and their communities healthy, and advances in COVID-19 treatment options are giving us yet another tool to combat the most serious effects of the virus for many Manitobans. Public health will continue to closely monitor these key indicators to guide how we deal with COVID in the weeks and months ahead.”
Manitobans are reminded COVID-19 treatment options are available that can help protect against severe illness or hospitalization. Treatment must begin within days of having symptoms, so it is important to get tested quickly to access this care. Vaccinated and unvaccinated people, including those with chronic health conditions, who are pregnant or have other risk factors, may be eligible for treatment. A new self-assessment tool and more information about COVID-19 treatment is available at www.manitoba.ca/covid19/treatment/.
As previously announced by the province, proof of vaccination will no longer be required in public places as of March 1. However, the Manitoba immunization card and verifier app will continue to be available for businesses and venues that may choose require proof of vaccination after that date. Manitoba’s mask requirements will be removed on March 15.
Essential care partners of patients transferred through the inter-regional transfer protocol are eligible for reimbursement of costs incurred when visiting. For information on eligible costs and to apply for reimbursement, visit https://sharedhealthmb.ca/files/patient-transfer-essential-care-partner-reimbursement.pdf. Verification may require receipts for some costs to be submitted.
For more information about COVID-19 in Manitoba, visit www.manitoba.ca/covid19/.
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