Manitoba reported 164 new cases of COVID-19 and one death today, the seventh day of triple-digit case counts.
“Throughout Manitoba, in every region, we are seeing case counts and trends that look very much like our situation in October,” said Dr. Joss Reimer, Manitoba’s medical lead of the vaccine implementation task force at a news conference on Wednesday.
“Even with vaccines, we could see cases increase very quickly, leading to another lockdown.”
Most of the new COVID-19 cases announced Wednesday were in the Winnipeg health region, which posted 76 new infections, a provincial news release says.
There are also 30 new cases in the Northern Health Region, 24 in the Southern Health region, 19 in the Prairie Mountain Health region and 15 in the Interlake-Eastern health region.
There have now been 36,632 COVID-19 cases identified in Manitoba, of which 1,833 are considered active.
A man in his 50s from Northern Health Region has died, the news release says, bringing the total number of deaths due to COVID-19 to 961.
The number of more contagious coronavirus variants is also growing.
Thirty new cases of variants of concern were reported on the province’s online data portal, bringing the total to 804. Of those, 232 are considered active.
Most of the active cases are the B117 variant first seen in the U.K., with two cases of the P1 variant, which has become associated with Brazil.
The province’s five-day test positivity rate continues to rise.
On Wednesday, it went up to 6.3 per cent, from six per cent the day before. In Winnipeg, that rate jumped to 6.6 per cent from 6.3.
Meanwhile, there are 137 COVID-19 patients hospitalized, the province said, up from 132 on Tuesday. Of those, 34 are in intensive care, up by one.
On Tuesday, 2,785 COVID-19 tests were done in Manitoba.
Exposures to B117
The public may have been exposed to a more contagious coronavirus variant at a restaurant in Thompson, Man., earlier this month, the province says.
The possible exposure to the B117 variant of concern took place at McDonald’s at 217 Mystery Lake Rd. on April 8 from 4 p.m. to midnight, April 10 and 11 from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. and April 13 and 14 from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Anybody experiencing symptoms after visiting the restaurant should isolate immediately and go for testing, the province says.
In Winnipeg, an outbreak has been declared at St. Maurice Daycare.
The province announced early Wednesday that people working in front-line jobs in high-risk communities will be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine starting Friday, as will any adult living in those hot spots.
Eligible workers in the high-risk areas will include those employed at grocery stores, gas stations, schools, convenience stores and food processing plants.
The vaccine task force plans to release information about the first areas that will get priority access on Friday.
Thousands of first responders became eligible for COVID-19 vaccines on Wednesday.
That includes an estimated 2,400 front-line police officers and 4,700 firefighters, including volunteer firefighters.
Reimer cautioned Manitobans not to get complacent with public health orders because of shifting vaccine eligibility.
“Case numbers are rising quickly, particularly among younger people. Our shift to an 18-plus approach in some communities will help, but even that is limited by the amount of vaccine we will have in the weeks ahead,” she said.
Manitoba also announced Wednesday that general eligibility to be immunized at a supersite or temporary clinic has been lowered to 50 or older and First Nations people 30 or older.
So far, 364,389 doses of coronavirus vaccines have been given. Just over 27 per cent of eligible adults have received at least one dose.
This update comes after the province reported 211 new cases of COVID-19 and one death on Tuesday, as well as 63 new cases of more contagious variants.
It’s the highest single-day new case count since Jan. 24, near the end of Manitoba’s second wave of COVID-19.
Sixty-three new cases of highly infectious variants of concern were also reported Tuesday, including a second case of the P1 variant that’s become associated with Brazil.
The first P1 case was identified last Thursday and is related to travel. The second case was expected because the person who travelled had one household contact, Dr. Jazz Atwal, Manitoba’s acting deputy chief public health officer, said last week.
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