295 new COVID-19 cases, 1 variant-linked death reported in Manitoba
Most Manitobans won't be told they have B117 as more contagious variants top 50% of cases
Manitoba reported 295 new cases of COVID-19 and one death linked to a more contagious coronavirus variant on Friday.
A man in his 70s from Winnipeg died due to an infection with the B117 variant originally detected in the U.K., a news release from the province says.
So far, 974 people have died due to COVID-19, including seven tied to variants.
The number of Manitobans in hospital rose by seven to 149, with about a quarter of them infected by a variant, the province said. One in four COVID-19 patients in hospital is under 50.
Thirty-nine of those patients are in intensive care and a quarter of those patients are also 50 or younger.
WATCH | Manitoba seeing more hospital admissions among younger people: Atwal:
The majority of new cases — 187 — are in Winnipeg. Another 50 cases were detected in the Prairie Mountain Health region, 29 in Southern Health, 17 in Northern Health and 12 in Interlake-Eastern.
The news comes as Manitoba expanded eligibility for the AstraZeneca vaccine on Friday. Pregnant people and other adults with priority health conditions are now eligible to be vaccinated in a doctor's office or pharmacy.
The province enacted a four-week period of restrictions on Wednesday in an effort to stem a rise in cases amid a third wave. It could take weeks for the impact of those measures to impact Manitoba's COVID-19 case count.
The seven-day average for cases rose by 33 per cent last week, part of a continuing trend. In comparison, Manitoba saw increases of 50 per cent week over week in November during the second wave, said Dr. Jazz Atwal, Manitoba's deputy chief provincial public health officer.
And though the rising case rate is lower than it was in fall, and hospital numbers haven't jumped dramatically, intensive care unit admissions have been climbing by about eight per cent a week over the past month, Atwal said.
The provincial test positivity rate also remains high at 7.2 per cent. The rate in Winnipeg is at 8.2 per cent, double what it was four weeks ago.
"We're in a tough spot," Atwal said.
The total number of more contagious variants climbed from 1,900 to 2,095. Of Manitoba's 2,375 active COVID-19 cases, 830 are now more transmissible variants.
Atwal said half the new cases lately are variants of concern, with most concentrated in southern Manitoba. The majority of variant cases are the B117 variant, he said.
In light of the increasing prevalence of the B117 variant, contact tracing protocols will change, Atwal said.
Most Manitobans will no longer be notified by contact tracers that they have been infected with B117 when they test positive, as the strain has become the common coronavirus strain in the south, Atwal said. Exceptions include people in northern and remote communities, where variants aren't yet dominant.
Atwal implored Manitobans to "nudge" the people in their lives to get vaccinated as soon as they're eligible.
About 37 per cent of Manitoba adults have received at least one dose, though the province this week also revealed comparatively low uptake rates in some southern Manitoba communities.
"Our focus should be, let's look forward, let's see what we need to do for the next four weeks to really limit those interactions, limit hospitalizations," Atwal said.
"Let's get as much vaccine out there as possible so we can again look at a sense of normalcy."
WATCH | Full news conference on COVID-19 | April 30, 2021: