Manitoba

Number of coronavirus variants of concern in Manitoba schools more than doubled in past week, data shows

The number of reported cases of novel coronavirus variants in Manitoba schools more than doubled in the past week, provincial data shows.

Nearly 3,000 COVID-19 cases have been reported in Manitoba schools since September 2020, data shows

Members of parent group Safe September MB want to see schools close like they did last spring. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

The number of reported cases of novel coronavirus variants in Manitoba schools more than doubled in the past week, provincial data shows.

A week ago, there had been a total of 108 people within the Manitoba education system who contracted a variant of concern — a more contagious mutation of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

But that number jumped to 231 — an increase of 123 cases — in the past week, according to new provincial data released Tuesday.

In the two weeks before April 26, there were 153 cases of coronavirus variants reported in Manitoba schools, the data shows.

A total of 70 variant of concern cases were reported in the two weeks prior to April 20.

There were 209 more COVID-19 cases reported in schools in the past week: 167 students, 42 staff. There have now been 2,997 school-related COVID-19 cases since September of last year.

Manitoba schools reported 364 cases — 287 students, 77 staff — in the two weeks before April 26, data shows.

That is an increase of 49 per cent, from 244 total cases — 194 students, 50 staff — in the two weeks before April 20, data shows.

There were 153 schools reporting at least one case in the 14 days prior to April 26. That's up from 126 schools in the two weeks before April 20, data shows.

Of the schools currently dealing with COVID-19, five had not previously reported any cases until the past week, data shows. A total of 505 schools in Manitoba have now reported at least one case of COVID-19 since September of last year.

Most of the COVID-19 cases being reported in schools are around Winnipeg.

École Marie-Anne-Gaboury, a kindergarten to Grade 8 French Immersion school in the Louis Riel School Division, has the most COVID-19 cases of any Manitoba school with 19, including eight cases of contagious variants of concern, provincial data shows.

Pilot Mound School, a high school in southern Manitoba, has 14 COVID-19 cases but 11 cases of coronavirus variants — the most of any school in the province, data shows.

A new public health order comes into effect Wednesday. It will implement new restrictions that mainly limit capacity of indoor places and gatherings.

No new restrictions are being put in place for schools, however.

At least five schools across the province are switching to remote learning due to COVID-19. But Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba's chief provincial public health officer, told reporters Monday that most of the transmission is happening outside of the school setting.

Safe September MB, a parent group that formed and petitioned for strong COVID-19 protocols in schools last summer, would like to see a similar lockdown to what occurred last spring when the pandemic was new.

"We know it works. We've seen it work," said Luanne Karn, a Manitoba teacher and Safe September MB volunteer.

"At this point, it just sounds like they're going to wait another two weeks until the numbers are 400 [cases] a day and then do it."

Parents question safety of keeping Manitoba schools open

1 year ago
Duration 2:27
With at least five Manitoba schools now shifted to remote learning due to COVID-19, some are questioning whether it's time to have all students in the province return to remote learning or risk more outbreaks.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nicholas Frew is an online reporter with CBC Edmonton who focuses mainly on data-driven stories. Hailing from Newfoundland and Labrador, Frew moved to Halifax to attend journalism school. He has previously worked for CBC newsrooms in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Before joining CBC, he interned at the Winnipeg Free Press. You can reach him at nick.frew@cbc.ca.

With files from Stephanie Cram

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