Manitoba’s chief public health officer warned that the province is racing against an impending third wave of COVID-19 cases as it tries to keep cases down while ramping up vaccines.
Two more people have died due to COVID-19 and there are 62 new cases of the coronavirus in Manitoba, health officials announced Tuesday.
In his first public briefing since the Easter holiday weekend, Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin said we won’t see the impacts of any possible increased transmission from gatherings until two to four weeks from now.
“Because we’ve seen the variant cases here, if the transmission includes that variant, then this could be where we see our third wave begin,” he said.
Other provinces across Canada have seen rapid rises in the numbers of coronavirus variants that transmit more easily and have been linked to more serious illness, and Roussin stressed the need to limit any travel outside the province for non-essential reasons, and to follow self-isolation requirements when returning to Manitoba.
WATCH | Dr. Brent Roussin says it’s too early to tell impact of long weekend on Manitoba COVID-19 cases
Five more cases of the B117 coronavirus variant have been found in Manitoba since the last update on April 1. All five cases were in the Winnipeg health region.
The new variant cases bring the total number found in the province to 275. Of those, 240 were the B117 variant identified in Britain, 20 were the B1351 variant first seen in South Africa, and 15 are uncategorized.
The death of a woman in her 80s from the Winnipeg Health region is linked to an outbreak at Grace Hospital in Unit 3 South. The other person who died is a woman in her 90s, also from the Winnipeg health region.
Manitoba’s five-day test-positivity rate climbed to 5.3 per cent, up from 5.1 per cent on Monday. Winnipeg’s rate stayed at 4.3 per cent.
The province’s test-positivity rate has jumped nearly a full percentage point since Saturday, when it was 4.4 per cent.
WATCH | Dr. Brent Roussin on whether Manitoba’s vaccine rollout can catch up to COVID-19 cases
Manitobans need to be cautious as the province attempts to get as many people vaccinated with at least one dose over the next few weeks, Roussin said. As of Tuesday, more than 154,000 Manitobans had received at least a first dose of a vaccine.
“Certainly if our [COVID-19] numbers stay where they are for the next four to six weeks then we are likely to have a significant number of Manitoba vaccinated by that time,” Roussin said.
“If we are going to see a steep increase in cases like we’ve seen in other jurisdictions, then we’re going to fall behind on that approach.”
On Monday, the province announced it would have to postpone two dozen pop-up vaccination clinics in 18 communities next week, and stopped taking appointments at several others, after two shipments of Moderna vaccines were delayed.
WATCH | Dr. Brent Roussin on Manitoba COVID-19 vaccine delays
There are now 140 people in hospital due to COVID-19 — one fewer than Monday — and the number of active cases in hospital remained at 66. That includes 30 people in intensive care units due to COVID-19, with the number of active cases climbing by one to 14 and the other 16 people past the infectious stage of the disease.
Half of the new cases are in the Winnipeg region, which has 33. There are 23 in the Northern Health Region, four in the Prairie Mountain Health region and one each in the Interlake-Eastern health region and the Southern Health region.
Labs completed 1,386 tests on Monday.
A total of 34,549 people have tested positive in Manitoba since the start of the pandemic. Of those, 1,255 are listed as active and 942 people have died.
An outbreak has been declared in the B5 unit at St. Boniface Hospital.