Nearly two-thirds of Manitoba health-care workers who contracted COVID-19 did so in the past two months, data from the province suggests, and unions representing front-line staff say that’s contributing to burnout.
In a seven-week period in August and September, 61 health-care workers tested positive, making up the bulk of the roughly 100 such cases over the past six months, according to COVID-19 surveillance data from the province.
The recent uptick is adding strain to several health-care sectors, where employees are being required to work more overtime due to staffing shortages, said the Manitoba Nurses’ Union and the Canadian Union of Public Employees.
“Nurses are incredibly stressed,” said nurses union president Darlene Jackson. “It’s increasing, and then when you add an outbreak at a facility or on a unit, and you have staff off self-isolating, it’s the perfect storm. It just makes things even worse.”
Jackson said 27 nurses have tested positive since March. That represents a quarter of all health-care worker cases.
Between mid-March and early May, the province reported 36 cases of health-care workers testing positive. That trend flatlined for months amid mass closures and pandemic restrictions, before picking up again on the heels of loosened rules this summer.
Spikes in Prairie Mountain Health led to the reintroduction of restrictions at the end of last month. Similar rules were imposed in Winnipeg and surrounding communities this week amid what Manitoba’s chief provincial health officer recently called evidence of a second wave.
Sample results fast tracked
As of Tuesday, Winnipeg was home to more than 80 per cent of Manitoba’s 606 active cases. That has led to a rise in demand at COVID-19 test sites, resulting in hours-long wait times, particularly at drive-thru sites in Winnipeg.
The province opened a new mobile screening station Wednesday, but Jackson still worries about long wait times for nurses who can’t work until results are in.
“We’ve had staff shortages for a very long time,” she said. “Now, if you have an outbreak in your facility, we have nurses and health-care aides off self-isolating, waiting for test results. That has absolutely increased the shortage in nursing.”
A provincial spokesperson said when it comes to getting tested, health-care workers have to stand in line like the rest of the public. But at the lab, their samples are flagged to reduce turnaround times.
A union that represents health-care aides, transporters, ward clerks, security guards and more said it’s seeing signs of a stressed-out workforce in its members.
Staff at personal care homes and home-care workers appear to be among those most affected by burnout, said the president of CUPE Local 204.
“Anxiety levels have come up big time with COVID just because they don’t know who they’re coming in contact with,” said Debbie Boissonneault.
At least 18 front-line workers represented by CUPE have tested positive in the past six months, she said.
‘It’s been a problem’
Workloads have also increased and staff are spread thin filling in holes when peers are off sick, she said.
“Someone calls in sick, the employer doesn’t replace that person, so now you have three people doing the work of four, and sometimes two [doing] the work of four,” said Boissonneault.
“It’s been a problem long before COVID, and with COVID it’s even become more.”
An outbreak at Winnipeg’s Health Sciences Centre early in the pandemic resulted in 16 staff members testing positive, along with five patients and four close contacts. Two people died as a result of that outbreak.
After emerging from the first wave with no serious care home outbreaks, Manitoba has faced several in recent weeks, including one at Bethesda Place personal care home in Steinbach that has resulted in four deaths.
Jackson said cuts and closures stemming from the Pallister government’s health-care overhaul led to an increase in vacant nursing positions before the pandemic hit. That void contributed to a nurse workload that is “much heavier than it’s ever been,” said Jackson.
Jackson said appropriate personal protective equipment isn’t always available in some facilities, and that absence is also weighing on an already tired workforce.
“These nurses are incredibly stressed because not only do you have the workload and the staff shortage, now you have concerns about, ‘Am I protected? Are my residents or patients protected? And what am I taking home to my family?”
Manitoba to give COVID-19 update as new Winnipeg restrictions begin – CTV News Winnipeg
The Manitoba government is set to give an update on COVID-19 cases in the province on Monday, Oct. 19.
Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer, will be speaking at a news conference at 12:30 p.m. at the Manitoba Legislative Building. CTV News Winnipeg will live-stream the event.
This news conference comes as new restrictions take effect in the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region amid growing case numbers. These restrictions include reducing gathering sizes to five people for both indoor and outdoor public and private gatherings, and closing beverage rooms, bars, live entertainment facilities, casinos and bingo halls.
Over the weekend, Manitoba announced 129 new COVID-19 cases – 85 on Saturday and 44 on Sunday, as well as two more deaths. This brings the province’s death toll to 40 people.
Currently, there are 1,675 active cases of the disease in Manitoba, 1,436 of which are in Winnipeg, which is under code orange restrictions.
Since March, there have been 3,302 cases of COVID-19 in Manitoba.
This is a developing story, more details to come.
– With files from CTV’s Danton Unger and Mason DePatie.
New Winnipeg restrictions take effect today
Amid rising COVID-19 case numbers, the Manitoba government has issued more targeted restrictions for the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region, which come into effect on Monday, Oct. 19.
These new rules include:
- Reducing gathering sizes to five people for both indoor and outdoor public and private gatherings. This excludes household members for private gatherings inside a home;
- Closing beverage rooms, bars, live entertainment facilities, casinos and bingo halls;
- Limiting capacity at restaurants and lounges to 50 per cent. Tables can be no more than five people with two-metre distancing;
- Limiting retail businesses to 50 per cent capacity. Food courts and common areas must adhere to the five-person group size limit;
- Reducing the number of spectators at sporting activities and after-school events to 25 per cent of a site’s capacity;
- Reducing capacity at museums, galleries and libraries to 50 per cent. These facilities must also collect all attendees’ contact information; and
- Gyms and fitness centres must collect all attendees contact information. Everyone at a gym or fitness centre must wear a mask, unless they are doing physical activity.
These restrictions will remain in place for two weeks, at which time the province will reassess the rules.
“At two weeks we are going to need to either extend them or draw back – so we want to make it really clear that the intent of this is strictly time-limited,” said Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer, at a news conference on Friday, Oct. 16.
These new restrictions are in addition to the current rules in place for the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region, which includes mandatory masks in all indoor public spaces.
The Winnipeg Metropolitan Region has been under orange or restricted levels on the pandemic response system since Sept. 28.
“These restrictions will all be enforceable under the law,” Roussin said.
“We’ve issued fines in the past when required and we will be looking at ways of stepping up enforcing efforts in the coming weeks.”
As of Sunday, Oct. 18, there are 1,436 active COVID-19 cases in Winnipeg, the highest of any region in the province.
– With files from CTV’s Danton Unger.
Nova Scotia businesses won’t survive another year of COVID-19 restrictions
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business say many Atlantic Canada businesses are on the brink of bankruptcy.
According to their most recent study, 59 percent of Nova Scotia businesses would struggle to survive another year of COVID-19 business restrictions.
Jordi Morgan, Vice President of the Atlantic region for the CFIB, told NEWS 95.7’s The Rick Howe Show that without continued government support, many businesses in the province will slip below the surface, according to research CFIB has been conducting on business revenues ever since the pandemic began.
“In Nova Scotia, we’re looking at about only 33 percent normal or better,” said Morgan of businesses’ revenues compared to before the pandemic began. “So that means the remainder are below that.”
According to Morgan, the sectors most impacted are arts, hospitality and natural resources industries.
He added the most recent figures show 8 percent of businesses in the province are actively considering bankruptcy or winding down.
With the current revenue projections, only about 35 percent of Nova Scotia businesses would survive the year with their current earnings.
Morgan says the provincial government needs to get creative and ease business restrictions to make life easier for buisnesses as they brace for a potential second wave of COVID-19.
Source: – HalifaxToday.ca
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