Manitoba is reporting 210 new cases of COVID-19 and one death linked to a more contagious coronavirus variant.
There are early indications public health officials may have detected a variant of interest associated with India, Manitoba’s chief public health officer said at a press conference on Monday.
The B1617 variant hasn’t been confirmed with further testing, he said.
“We need Manitobans to understand how critical we are right now in a race between vaccinations and the variants of concern, and really this means staying home as much as possible,” Dr. Brent Roussin said.
Most of the new COVID-19 cases announced Monday were in the Winnipeg health region, which posted 157 new infections, a provincial news release says. There are also 19 new cases in the Prairie Mountain Health region, 15 in the Northern Health Region, 12 in the Interlake-Eastern health region and seven in the Southern Health region.
A woman in her 60s from the Winnipeg health region marks the fourth person to die of a coronavirus variant of concern. Her case is linked to the B117 variant, which was first identified in the U.K.
“We’re in a very precarious place right now,” said Roussin.
WATCH | Rapid growth of COVID-19 in Manitoba:
He says Manitoba is in the same spot as it was in the fall when the province saw a dramatic increase in cases, although in this wave, we are seeing more transmissible coronavirus variants.
Across the province, nearly 50 per cent of all positive tests from the week of April 11-17 involved concerning coronavirus variants, up from about 25 per cent the previous week, an epidemiology report shows.
As of Saturday, the last time the province updated its data, there were 558 active cases involving variants.
Most of the active cases involve the B117 variant, which was first discovered in the U.K. There is also one active case of the P1 variant, which has become associated with Brazil.
Provincial data on variants of concern is updated from Tuesday to Saturday.
Meanwhile, Manitoba’s five-day test positivity rate continues to rise.
The provincial rate grew to 7.6 per cent from 7.1 per cent on Sunday. In Winnipeg, that rate jumped to 8.2 per cent from 7.6.
Younger people in ICU
Although COVID-19 cases are being detected in all age demographics, the numbers are “rapidly increasing” among Manitobans in their 20s and 30s, Roussin said.
There are also 148 COVID-19 patients hospitalized, the province said, up from 139 on Sunday. Of those, 37 are in intensive care.
Roussin says the average age of people in intensive care with COVID-19 is now 56, which is significantly younger than the ICU population during the second wave of the pandemic.
Hospitalizations are up 56 per cent from last week, he added.
There have now been 37,808 COVID-19 cases identified in Manitoba, of which 2,093 are considered active.
On Sunday, 2,784 COVID-19 tests were done in Manitoba.
WATCH | Why schools are still open:
This latest update comes as the province announced new, strict public health orders.
Most Manitobans will no longer be able to have any visitors over — indoors or outdoors — at their homes for a period of at least four weeks amid rising COVID-19 cases, Roussin said.
Meanwhile, everyone living and working in the Northern health region, as well as people who live and some people who work in the Seven Oaks west health area in Winnipeg, are eligible to book an appointment for a coronavirus vaccine.
As of Monday, 429,312 doses have been administered, or about 32.9 per cent of Manitoba’s adults.
The seven-day average of daily case numbers is now about 223. The same time last week, that number was 137.
WATCH | Full news conference on COVID-19 | April 26, 2021: