Manitoba

1st case of omicron variant discovered in Manitoba

One case of the omicron variant, also known as B.1.1.529, has been detected in Manitoba, the province says in a news release.

4 deaths and 93 new cases of COVID-19 also reported on Tuesday

The province's first case of the omicron variant is linked to travel from one of the countries the federal government has flagged as high risk. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

The first case of the omicron variant, also known as B.1.1.529, has been detected in Manitoba, the province says in a news release.

Public health officials are doing aggressive case and contact management, and if any public health risks are discovered and it's deemed necessary to protect the health of others, more information will be released, the news release says.

The person who tested positive for the newest coronavirus variant of concern recently travelled to Manitoba from a federally advised country and has so far experienced mild symptoms, the province said. 

This is the first case of the variant found in Manitoba to date. Other provinces, including Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia, have also reported cases. 

Little is known about omicron, which the World Health Organization labelled a variant of concern. It's being linked to a rapid rise of cases in nearly all South African provinces.

Virologist Jason Kindrachuk says he isn't surprised Manitoba has reported its first case of omicron, but Manitoba's biggest problem is still the delta, or B.1.617.2 variant, which public health officials have said is the dominant strain.

"We're talking about omicron, but delta is still putting a lot of people in hospital. It's still transmitting very widely across communities across the globe. And unfortunately, it's causing a lot of fatalities, so we have to remain conscious of that," said the associate professor and Canada Research chair in emerging viruses.

Kindrachuk expects more information to come out in the coming days and weeks about how transmissible and dangerous omicron is. Even so, he says Manitobans know what to do to slow transmission.

"Even if omicron has some enhanced transmissibility … the things that we're doing are largely going to be able to keep the virus at bay."

Manitobans should continue following public health orders, get vaccinated, limit contact with others and focus on the fundamentals to limit the spread of COVID-19, including its highly contagious variants, the province said.

4 more deaths

Manitoba also reported four deaths and 93 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, the provincial coronavirus data dashboard says.

There are 38 new cases in the Southern Health Region, 34 in the Winnipeg health region, 11 in the Northern Health Region, six in the Interlake-Eastern health region and four in the Prairie Mountain Health region.

Intensive care nurses treat a severely ill COVID-19 patient. Across Manitoba, hospitals are filling up and doctors say the province is running out of resources to treat critically ill patients. (Hendrik Schmidt/dpa/The Associated Press)

The total number of deaths in Manitoba due to the coronavirus is now 1,338. There are currently 1,565 active cases, and 66,035 people have recovered from the disease.

The current five-day test positivity rate in Manitoba is 6.4 per cent, up from 6.3 per cent on Monday.

On Monday, 2,516 COVID-19 tests were done.

As of Tuesday, 152 Manitobans are hospitalized with COVID-19, holding steady from the day before, including 32 in intensive care, an increase of two.

As of midnight, there are 97 patients in intensive care, including both COVID and non-COVID patients, 25 more than the pre-pandemic baseline of 72 patients, a Shared Health spokesperson said.

Among those in hospital with active COVID-19, 59 are unvaccinated, 30 are fully vaccinated and six are partly vaccinated.

When looking at those in ICU with active COVID-19, 22 are unvaccinated and two are fully vaccinated.

The total number of COVID-19 cases linked to school-age children or school staff since classes started on Sept. 7 is now 1,750, the province's dashboard on school data says.

That's an increase of 177 since the last update on Dec. 3.

Of the latest figures for schools, 1,495 are student cases and 255 are staff. There have been 396 schools that have reported one or more cases.

A map showing student and school staff cases within the last 14 days can be seen here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rachel Bergen is a journalist for CBC Manitoba and previously reported for CBC Saskatoon. Email story ideas to rachel.bergen@cbc.ca.

With files from Cory Funk

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