People are going through the third wave of COVID-19 in Manitoba. Canadian provinces are relaxing pandemic restrictions. They are also planning to reopen their economies at the beginning of summer. However, Manitoba stands out as an exception. It seemed the province wouldn’t undergo a third wave of the pandemic. However, it reported the highest per capita COVID-19 infection rate for the past two weeks compared to Canadian provinces and U.S. states. As a result, Premier Brian Pallister’s Progressive Conservative government had to increase restrictions.
Manitoba has a daily average of 26 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 citizens. It is more than triple the Canadian average. Pallister stated on May 27: “We are in a tough situation, and our need is to protect each other and to safeguard our health care system for all of us.” Epidemiologists and infectious disease experts blame the Pallister government for the situation. Souradet Shaw, a social epidemiologist at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, said: “They dithered with half-measures, ignoring the science and evidence all around them, and eroded public trust while squandering a month-long cushion at the start of the third wave… Instead of developing a clearly articulated and evidence-based strategy to tackle predictable surges, they impugned critics, misled the public through distortions, obscuring data, and accountability, and blamed everyone but themselves.”
Third Wave and Hospital Crisis in Manitoba
Manitoba hospitals have been struggling for weeks to treat the increasing number of COVID-19 patients. Health care professionals even had to transfer some ICU patients to Ontario and Saskatchewan hospitals. Due to the hospital crisis, some non-COVID patients died because hospital staff had to cancel thousands of surgeries.
Dozens of doctors, infectious disease experts, and epidemiologists had warned that the Manitoba healthcare system was in danger in early April. It is when COVID-19 cases began to increase at a rapid rate. In response, provincial officials dismissed concerns. It took a month for the government to change the official rhetoric in Manitoba.