4 Winnipeg schools notified of possible exposures to more transmissible coronavirus variants

Four Winnipeg schools have been notified of possible exposures to more transmissible coronavirus variants: St. Paul's High School, Our Lady of Victory School, Highbury School and École Rivière-Rouge.

Manitoba's five-day test positivity rate up to 5.2%, 3.7% in Winnipeg

There are 66 new COVID-19 cases and another death on Monday, Dr. Brent Roussin says. (John Woods/The Canadian Press)

Four Winnipeg schools have been notified of possible exposures to more transmissible coronavirus variants.

Letters have gone out to affected students and staff at St. Paul's High School, Our Lady of Victory School, Highbury School and École Rivière-Rouge, Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba's chief public health officer, said at a news conference on Monday.

The affected classes and other close contacts are isolating, he said.

Roussin also announced an additional case of a variant of concern, a B117 variant case in the Prairie Mountain Health region. The person has recovered. 

There are also 66 new COVID-19 cases and another death, he said.

WATCH | Dr. Roussin on coronavirus variants in schools:

Dr. Brent Roussin on COVID-19 variants of concern in Manitoba schools

2 years ago
Duration 1:12
Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba's chief public health officer, said Monday the province will closely monitor cases of more transmissible coronavirus variants in schools. But he said so far, the education system has done a good job at stopping spread of COVID-19.

Public health officials are still investigating the sources of the variant cases in schools, Roussin said.

"It's still early for definitive answers, but a lot of the reports, we're hearing … that there may be increased severity, that we're seeing younger people be needing hospitalization or ICU admission, we're seeing longer stays in hospital, so we do need to prepare for that," he said.

"This is why we're taking very aggressive case and contact investigation and public health measures to try to do what we can to keep this variant of concern from spreading widely in our communities." 

Anyone who is considered a close contact will be notified by public health officials, he said. Parents are asked to monitor their children for symptoms and get them tested if any develop.

WATCH | Some coronavirus variants may impact younger people harder:

Dr. Brent Roussin on reports of coronavirus variants hitting younger people harder

2 years ago
Duration 0:50
Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba's chief public health officer, said Monday it's still early for "definitive answers," but the province must be on guard in light of reports from other jurisdictions suggesting more transmissible virus variants may have more severe outcomes and may result in younger people requiring medical attention.

There are now seven schools in the province with possible exposures to variants of concern. Three other exposures were announced on Friday.

More than two-thirds of the new COVID-19 cases in Manitoba — 45 — are in the Winnipeg area. There are 17 cases in the Northern Health Region, four in the Southern Health region and no new cases in either the Interlake-Eastern or Prairie Mountain Health regions.

Deaths from 2020 reported recently

The death of a man in his 50s from the Winnipeg health region was reported Monday, but that death took place in December, Roussin said.

On Sunday, the province reported seven deaths; four of them happened between November and February, and three earlier this month.

Roussin said Monday that one of the deaths — a woman in her 90s — is linked to a previous outbreak at Maples Long Term Care Home. Another — a woman in her 80s — is linked to a previous outbreak at the Misericordia Hospital.

The deaths were reported to Public Health late last week following case reviews.

"These reviews will take place from time to time, and our data is updated regularly," Roussin said.

Test positivity rate grows

Manitoba's five-day test positivity rate is 5.2 per cent, up from five per cent on Sunday. In Winnipeg, that rate is 3.7 per cent, up from 3.6 per cent on Sunday.

There are now 138 COVID-19 patients hospitalized in Manitoba, up three since Sunday. There's also an increase of three in intensive care, for a total of 25.

"The message right now is we have to be cautious, but that shouldn't take away our optimism," Roussin said.

"We have spring and summer coming. We have plans to get the majority of Manitobans vaccinated fairly quickly. I think there needs to be that level of optimism. I think Manitobans need to see that there is hope, we just can't let up right now until we get more and more vaccine."

There are currently 1,205 active cases and 31,285 people have recovered from COVID-19.

There were 1,533 COVID-19 tests done in Manitoba on Sunday.

As of Thursday, a number of groups are eligible to get a rapid testing appointment at the Fast Pass site at 1066 Nairn Ave. in Winnipeg, whether or not they are showing symptoms for COVID-19, Roussin announced, including:

  • All Manitoba teachers, educational support staff and other staff working in schools and directly with students.
  • Manitoba staff working in licensed child-care facilities and child-care providers or people working in licensed home-based child-care facilities.

Meanwhile, the outbreak is now over at St. Boniface Hospital unit E5.

Supersites are now open in all five health regions. The latest, in Morden, will serve the Southern Health region. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)

Vaccine eligibility expands

As of Monday morning, all Manitobans 65 and older and First Nations people 45 and older can get appointments for the vaccine.

So far, nearly 8.5 per cent of eligible Manitobans over 18 have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The criteria for vaccination has changed numerous times this month as the federal government upped vaccine shipments to Manitoba. On March 3, all Manitobans 89 and older and First Nations people 69 and older were eligible. As of today, anyone 65 and older and First Nations people 45 and older qualify.

Meanwhile, the COVID-19 vaccination supersite meant to serve Manitoba's Southern Health region opened to the public in Morden on Monday.

Those who are eligible can book an appointment at vaccination supersites or pop-up clinics online or by calling 1-844-626-8222. More information about eligibility is available on the province's website.

"I just encourage Manitobans, book your appointment as soon as you become eligible. The more and more Maniotbans we get vaccinated and protected, then the more likely we are to start being able to lift these public health measures," Roussin said.

The seven-day average for daily reported cases has crept up to the mid-80s after dipping to the low 50s earlier this month. 

Test positivity has gradually increased as well: in early March, it dropped to three per cent for all of Manitoba and just above two per cent in Winnipeg.

WATCH | Full news conference on COVID-19 | March 22, 2021:

Manitoba government daily briefing on coronavirus: March 22

2 years ago
Duration 36:06
Provincial officials give update on COVID-19 outbreak: Monday, March 22, 2021.

With files from Bryce Hoye


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