More contagious variant cases of COVID-19 surge by over 300 in Manitoba
Manitoba reports 218 new COVID-19 cases as active variant caseload rises to 687
Manitoba announced 218 more COVID-19 cases and no new deaths on Tuesday, and the number of more contagious variants continues to grow.
Most new COVID-19 cases — 156 — are in Winnipeg, with 30 detected in the Prairie Mountain Health region, 15 in Southern Health, 12 in Northern Health and five in Interlake-Eastern.
The total number of variants of concern jumped to 1,641 from 1,309 on Saturday. It takes longer to identify variants, and since the provincial variant dashboard is updated from Tuesday to Saturday, the jump represents cases detected during at least the past two days.
The active variant caseload rose by more than 100 to 687 on Tuesday.
Nearly half of all variant cases in Manitoba have popped up in Winnipeg, and most provincewide are linked to the B117 strain originally detected in the U.K.
Almost a third of variant cases are listed as "unspecified," and the remainder are cases of the B1351 and P1 strains that emerged in South Africa and Brazil, respectively.
A variant associated with India may also be in Manitoba as of last week but that case requires further confirmation, Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin said.
The provincial test positivity rate fell slightly to 7.5 per cent — which is still up from 4.3 per cent one month ago — while the rate in Winnipeg increased slightly to 8.4 per cent. Winnipeg's rate has more than doubled in the past four weeks.
Testing has also increased alongside test positivity and cases: the seven-day average for tests is just over 3,000 as of Tuesday, compared to around 1,150 three weeks ago.
The province didn't release updated data on hospital numbers, citing issues with data systems. On Monday, there were 148 people in hospital, including 37 patients in intensive care.
Two outbreaks have been declared, at Swan Valley Lodge Personal Care Home in Swan River and Marie-Anne Gaboury school in Winnipeg, which has already reverted to remote learning.
There are at least 19 confirmed cases detected among staff and students there in the last two weeks, provincial data says. Sixteen of those are students in the school of about 400, with the remaining three listed as staff members on the province's website.
Roussin said Monday that contact tracing continues to suggest cases in schools are linked to activity and transmission in the community, not within schools.
The news comes one day after Roussin and Premier Brian Pallister announced a suite of restrictions will come into effect Wednesday to limit the surge of cases.
There will be no gatherings allowed at private residences, indoors or out, and public outdoor gatherings will be capped at 10. Capacity restrictions will be imposed in the retail and restaurant sectors, as well as at places of worship.
There are 2,173 active cases in Manitoba, nearly double the amount a month ago.
So far, there have been 968 deaths due to COVID-19 in Manitoba, with at least four of those tied to variants.