REGINA -- Saskatchewan health officials say the province will start accepting intensive care patients from Manitoba on Wednesday. The interprovincial agreement comes as COVID-19 hospitalizations push Manitoba’s ICU capacity to its limits.

Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) CEO Scott Livingstone said the province will accept patients in a “slow and measured way.”

Officials plan to transfer the first patient from Manitoba to an intensive care unit outside of Regina or Saskatoon on Wednesday, according to Livingstone.

The province will then work on a day-by-day basis for the next five days to see if Saskatchewan has the capacity to support one patient from Manitoba each day, until it reaches a predetermined limit of five patients.

“It’s important to know that if we were in the situation Manitoba was in, we would be reaching out to our partners interprovincially for that kind of support,” said Livingstone.

Livingstone added the SHA is carefully monitoring Saskatchewan’s ICU capacity, which he said is currently within the lower limit of provincial surge capacity.

There are 30 COVID-19 patients in ICUs across Saskatchewan. COVID-related ICU admissions peaked in mid-April at 52.

As of Tuesday, there are 79 COVID-19 patients in Manitoba ICUs. The province has sent 18 patients to out-of-province hospitals so far.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said he’s thinking of families impacted on the other side of the border.

“Our hearts most certainly are with many families in Manitoba. Where we have capacity and where we can help, we most certainly are going to help our fellow Canadians in our neighbouring province.”