Manitoba

171 new COVID-19 cases, 2 more deaths reported over 3 days in Manitoba

Manitoba reports 171 new COVID-19 cases over the past three days.

Public health officials reducing quarantine period from 14 to 10 days for close contacts

Manitoba has recorded more than 59,000 COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

Manitoba reports 171 new COVID-19 cases over the past three days.

There were 72 cases on Saturday, 58 on Sunday and 41 cases Monday, says a news release from the province.

There were two more deaths during that time.

Among the 41 new cases in Manitoba on Monday, 32 are in people who were not fully vaccinated — 30 were not vaccinated at all, two were partially vaccinated and nine were fully vaccinated, according to the province's online vaccination dashboard.

There are new 21 cases (17 not fully vaccinated) in the Southern Health region, 12 new cases (nine not fully vaccinated) in the Winnipeg health region, five new cases (four not fully vaccinated) in the Prairie Mountain Health region, two new cases (one not fully vaccinated) in the Northern Health Region and one new case in a person not fully vaccinated in the Interlake-Eastern health region.

The province listed three deaths in its release on Monday, though one of them was previously reported on Friday. However, no details were provided on Friday, so there is no way to determine which of the three listed on Monday was from then and which are the two most recent deaths.

The three deaths were all women, including two who were both in their 70s and both from the Interlake-Eastern health region. The other is in her 60s and from the Winnipeg health region, linked to the B.1.617.2 (delta) variant of concern.

The current five-day COVID-19 test positivity rate is 3.2 per cent provincially (up from three per cent on Friday) and 1.6 per cent in Winnipeg.

The total number of deaths of Manitobans with COVID-19 is now 1,202, including 199 linked to variants of concern.

There are 69 people in hospital with COVID-19, which is a decline of six from Friday. Of those, 14 are in intensive care, which is a drop of one from Friday.

There were 1,739 COVID-19 tests completed Sunday, bringing the total number since early February 2020 to 951,975.

Reducing quarantine period

Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin said Monday that based on evolving evidence and the balancing of risks and benefits, changes are being made to the current self-isolation requirements.

The quarantine period for close contacts of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 will be reduced to 10 days from 14.

Although self-monitoring for symptoms will still be required for 14 days, those last four days do not have to be done in isolation.

"What we're seeing is that the risk of becoming a case is much greater in the early parts of that incubation period. If someone hasn't become a case within 10 days, it's very much less likely that they will become a case after that," Roussin said.

"In fact, if you have a negative test during that period of isolation, there's less than a one per cent chance of somebody developing infectious COVID after that 10-day mark."

The change aligns Manitoba with other provinces in Canada as well as the United States, Roussin said.

"It allows people to get back to school or work a bit sooner [without] a significant increase in the risk."

Roussin is hoping a shortened quarantine period will also encourage people to be more willing to share the names of close contacts.

There have been cases of people not wanting to share because of the prospect of their contacts having to spend two weeks in isolation, he said.

"So by doing this in a safe manner, [we hope we] remove some of that burden going forth," Roussin said.

Isolation exemptions

Public health recently began exempting certain close contacts from isolation requirements altogether if they are asymptomatic and fully immunized, or if they themselves had been infected — and recovered — within three months of the current exposure. 

Those orders are now changing as well. The three-month span is being increased to six, Roussin said.

"We're confident now that immunity from natural infection will provide that protection for up to six months," he said.

There are no requirements for isolation or quarantine of household members of asymptomatic close contacts, but it is recommended those household members wear a mask and observe physical distancing rules outside of the house wherever possible.

And while those household members are not required to isolate, Roussin encourages them to avoid leaving the home for non-essential reasons as much as possible during the 10-day incubation period.

Lastly, the requirement for asymptomatic close contacts to be tested after day 10 will be changed to testing after day seven, in order to give them the all-clear sooner, Roussin said.

The measures will be implemented over the next several weeks, said Roussin, who did not yet have concrete dates.

He also urged parents, as school is now underway, to keep their children home if they have any symptoms, even the most mild.

That goes for anyone going to work or university or elsewhere, he said.

"We've all done that, in the past [before COVID], but our time has changed. We're going to see a lot of transmission if we continue to do that."

As Manitoba moves into fall with more indoor activities replacing outdoor ones, the expectation is that cases of other respiratory viruses will begin circulating.

Roussin encouraged all eligible people to get vaccinated for both COVID-19 and seasonal influenza.

"Our health-care system is preparing for a flu and RSV [respiratory syncytial virus] season but we definitely need your help to keep these numbers down," he said. 

"Our system is already strained."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Darren Bernhardt spent the first dozen years of his journalism career in newspapers, at the Regina Leader-Post then the Saskatoon StarPhoenix. He has been with CBC Manitoba since 2009 and specializes in offbeat and local history stories. He is the author of award-nominated and bestselling The Lesser Known: A History of Oddities from the Heart of the Continent.

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