Manitoba

BA.2 subvariant appears to be dominant virus strain in Manitoba: province

Data from the provincial government shows that Omicron’s BA.2 subvariant may already be the dominant coronavirus strain in Manitoba.

BA.2, subvariant of Omicron, represents 60% of recent sequenced positive COVID-19 tests

Early April modeling from the federal government suggested there would be an increase of COVID-19 cases in coming weeks. (CBC)

Data from the provincial government shows that Omicron's BA.2 subvariant may already be the dominant coronavirus strain in Manitoba.

Approximately 200 positive COVID-19 tests are being sequenced by the province each week, which represent about 10 to 15 per cent of all positive test results, a provincial spokesperson said in an email to CBC News.

"Based on the data presented, BA.2 appears to be the predominant strain in Manitoba," the spokesperson said, adding that the most recent batch of tests showed a 60 per cent positivity rate for the BA.2 subvariant.

Early April modelling from the federal government suggested there would be an increase of COVID-19 cases in coming weeks since the much more infectious BA.2 subvariant is circulating widely amid loosened health restrictions.

"We are now in a period of transition, and we anticipate that progress will not be linear and that there will likely be more bumps along the way, including resurgence in cases this spring," said Dr. Theresa Tam in a press conference on Friday.

Dr. Tam also said the number of COVID-related hospitalizations and deaths are at a low point in the country, thanks to strong vaccine coverage and natural immunity from past infection.

Manitoba announced Wednesday that they will widen eligibility criteria for fourth doses of COVID-19 vaccines for everyone age 70 and older, Indigenous people 50 and up, and all residents of personal care homes and assisted living facilities.

The province said in a news release that the move to open criteria was based on recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, which advised provincial governments earlier this week to prepare to offer second booster doses for people 80 and older.

Shared Health told CBC News that as of midnight, there were 87 patients in intensive care, and that number includes patients receiving both COVID and non-COVID care.

Manitoba released its last daily COVID-19 update on March 25, and a weekly epidemiology report is now being released by the province every Thursday.

During question period at the legislature on Tuesday, Premier Heather Stefanson said weekly updates are enough to inform Manitobans of the current COVID trends in the province.

But the shift was criticized by members of the opposition, who say the province is providing Manitobans with less information.

"The idea that we're better off knowing after a week where the trends are just isn't the case, especially when you can see massive changes within a week," Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont said on Tuesday.

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