Despite word from Alberta that the province has reached out to Manitoba for help with its worsening COVID-19 situation, officials here say there’s been no official ask — yet.
On Thursday Dr. Verna Yiu, the head of Alberta Health Services, confirmed Alberta is in talks with Ontario to help deal with an intensive care system that is operating 155 per cent over normal capacity and said the province is also talking with British Columbia and Manitoba.
But a provincial health spokesperson in Manitoba told Global News as of Friday morning, the province hasn’t been officially approached by Alberta.
That doesn’t mean Manitoba won’t step up to help its neighbours should they need it, Premier Kelvin Goertzen said Thursday.
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“There’s not been a direct reach out, but, of course, you know, we benefited by support from Saskatchewan and Alberta and particularly Ontario during the third wave,” Goertzen said.
“If we had the ability to to offer support, I think that we’d want to like we do in lots of different things.”
Dozens of critically ill Manitobans were airlifted to hospitals in Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta as the third wave of COVID-19 ripped through Manitoba, overwhelming ICUs, in the spring.
Hospitals in both Alberta and Saskatchewan are now facing a similar crisis point as both provinces deal with hundreds of new cases a day.
COVID-19 cases in Alberta began surging after Premier Jason Kenney lifted almost all health restrictions in the province on July 1, announcing that the battle was over and that they didn’t foresee hospital cases rising to alarming levels again.
Alberta has regularly seen more than 1,000 new COVID cases a day for weeks. There were 18,706 active cases reported Thursday and 10 more deaths. There were 896 people in hospital, including 222 in ICU.
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Kenney declared a state of public health emergency on Wednesday and introduced a wide range of measures amid the growing number of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
Alberta is at risk of running out of medical staff and ICU beds in a little more than a week, according to Kenney. He said the health network may not be able to provide adequate care to everyone who gets sick unless transmission of the virus is curbed.
Yiu said Thursday that Ontario has offered help and Alberta is now in talks about the potential transfer of patients.
Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey also offered aid in a statement on Twitter. Health officials in B.C. and Quebec have said they won’t be able to help Alberta at this time.
Yiu said in the meantime, Alberta is converting as many beds and spaces for intensive care as possible, including operating rooms.
While Manitoba’s chief medical health officer has said Manitoba is in the beginning stages of its own fourth wave, new daily case numbers have remained relatively low in recent weeks.
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Manitoba reported 64 new cases Thursday and as of Thursday morning 62 Manitobans were hospitalized as a result of COVID-19, with 12 patients in ICU.
Goertzen said provided Manitoba has capacity, the province will do what it can to help.
“We’re grateful for the fact that the other provinces helped us during the third wave,” he said.
“So if there was an opportunity and health officials felt they were able to do so — and if the request actually came in — you know, that’s something we would consider, obviously at the time.”
–with files from The Canadian Press and Kalina Laframboise
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.
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