Manitoba biased COVID-19 case, test numbers still worth watching: epidemiologists – Winnipeg

Manitoba health officials have warned that some recent COVID-19 numbers are likely skewed by delays in testing and changes in how testing is done, but epidemiologists say that doesn’t mean we should ignore the data.

Last week, Manitoba’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr Brent Roussin said the record number of daily cases was likely an underestimate caused by a backlog of tests that he said far exceeded 10,000 tests at the time.

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He also said that five-day test positivity rates could be skewed by people testing positive using a rapid test rather than getting a more accurate PCR test at provincial testing sites.

Dr Nazeem Muhajarine, epidemiologist and professor at the University of Saskatchewan, said it would obviously be better to have more accurate data, but it is still important to monitor the number of daily cases.

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Even though this is an undercoverage, he says comparing them to hospitalization and intensive care rates in other jurisdictions can give us an idea of ​​what to expect locally.

“This is our base, this is our source, this is our base that will produce more severe cases, hospitalizations, intensive care beds, etc.,” he said of the new number of daily cases.

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From what he’s seen with Omicron-related surges in other jurisdictions, Muhajarine says about one percent of our active cases will likely require hospitalization.

“When you look at the exponential growth of something that can create hospitalizations and deaths, you know, you’d expect to see a lot, not a few,” he said.

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“That’s why you know we have to monitor, you know, hospitalizations in other provinces and so on. “

Data released Monday on Manitoba’s COVID-19 online dashboard shows that there are currently 15,318 active cases in the province, up from 9,924 reported on Friday.

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Of these, 1,721 new cases were reported on Monday and hospitalizations fell from 192 on Friday to 228 on Monday. There were 32 patients in intensive care as a result of COVID-19 on Monday, two more than the numbers reported on Friday.

Meanwhile, Manitoba’s five-day test positivity rate also continues to set records, reaching 37.9% on Monday, according to the province’s website.

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University of Manitoba virologist Dr Jason Kindrachuk said that even with skewed data, it’s clear that Omicron is “basically all over this province.”

Ultimately, Kindrachuk says there is no health data provided by the government that is not worth looking at right now.

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“Yes, hospitalization is important, the impact of intensive care is important – we must continue to focus on these – but we must also understand that other cases will also have an impact,” he said. declared.

“I think we want to continue to monitor these numbers. Does that necessarily indicate where we are now? Maybe not, but it at least gives us some more data and insight into what the situation is. “

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– with files from Marney Blunt

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you should know:

Symptoms can include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, very similar to a cold or the flu. Some people can develop a more serious illness. Those most at risk are the elderly and people with serious chronic illnesses such as heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop any symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend washing your hands frequently and coughing up your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible, and maintaining a two-meter distance from others if you are going out. In situations where you cannot keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend using a face mask or non-medical liner to prevent spreading 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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