Changes to public health measures in the works to deal with more contagious UK variant

WINNIPEG — With the more contagious UK variant now present in Manitoba, the province said Wednesday it plans to make changes to contact tracing. 

Currently the Government of Manitoba considers a close contact to be, “anyone who has been in close physical proximity (less than two metres or six feet) for more than 15 minutes to someone who has COVID-19.”

Acting deputy public health chief Dr. Jazz Atwal acknowledged the current definition needs a rewrite since the variant can spread in a matter of minutes.

He said the province is updating the current public health measures to take the faster transmission time into account.

“We are looking at finalizing what that time period should be,” said Atwal. “We are looking at less than 15 minutes.”

On Tuesday, the province revealed it detected a COVID-19 variant for the first time in Manitoba. 

“This was a traveller. Close contacts were household contacts, no one else was considered a contact,” said Atwal. 

He added the province is ramping up contact tracing.

“We’ve increased the number of individuals helping with contact tracing and that work continues,” said Atwal.

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