Manitoba's current COVID-19 health orders are being extended for one more week, with the health minister hoping to see a reopening plan to follow.
The previous orders will continue, expiring at midnight on Tuesday, February 8.
Dr. Brent Roussin says there are some indicators of a plateau in COVID-19 cases, but more time to take a closer look at data is needed.
"We are nearing a critical junction again," Roussin says in a Friday morning press conference. "It is going to provide us likely with significantly more information."
Wastewater data shows cases could be increasing, but hospitalizations are slowly decreasing. He says there is still a big spread of omicron. The province says test rates are difficult to use as a total determiner, as people doing at-home tests are not recorded by the province.
He is looking favourably at health order loosening. He says mental health will be a top priority with reopenings, wanting to have the least restrictions on things such as schools and business capacities.
"As we see improvement in transmission and the indicators we rely on, then our goal is always to loosen restrictions as soon as it's safe to do so," Roussin says. "So, right now, we see some of this optimism but it's not clear, as of yet, or as clear as we need it to be, and so that's why we're delaying that one week. If we see more clarity on those indicators, then that's been our approach all along, to loosen restrictions to a point that match the risk."
Health Minister Audrey Gordon says that cases appear to have peaked and hospitalizations are decreasing. She says intensive care need is increasing.
The minister says the extension gives the province "time to confirm the trend in the COVID-19 data and its impacts on our health system we must continue to take steps to help our health system through this pandemic we need to ensure that we continue to have hospital beds and staff available to provide care for patients in need "
Gordon is hopeful that a reopening plan will be coming after the extension. She says Roussin and Premier Heather Stefanson will announce those plans together. She says this could include support for affected industries.
Unified Health Sector Incident Command co-lead, Dr. David Matear says healthcare is seeing high levels of sick leave, up 3,700 hours since the previous pay period. They are offering financial incentives to replace vacation time and training for healthcare workers to help manage the demand for care.
Thirty-nine patients have recently been transferred from their home community to other healthcare facilities, with more than 250 people being transported due to COVID-19 so far.
There have been 482 patients in a virtual care program, with 20 currently in the program. Matear says this has saved more than 3,000 days in the hospital. Omicron hospitalization stays are much shorter than the average Delta variant hospitalization.
You can watch the press conference live on this page at 11 a.m.
Roussin will be joined by Health Minister Audrey Gordon as well as Dr. David Matear, health system co-lead, Unified Health Sector Incident Command.
There was a slight decrease in hospitalizations announced on Thursday, with 711 people currently hospitalized. As of Thursday, there are 51 people in the ICU with COVID-19
Stricter health orders were announced on Dec. 1, 2021, and were originally set to expire on Jan. 11. Those orders, however, were extended for three weeks on Jan. 7, and set to expire on Feb. 1.
There are 28,951 active cases, down from the 39,933 recorded active cases Wednesday. These numbers do not include self-administered rapid tests. There are 87,482 recovered people in Manitoba.