6 COVID-19 deaths reported in Manitoba Wednesday
614 people in hospital, including 38 people in ICU
There are six more COVID-19 deaths in Manitoba and hospitalizations are holding steady on Wednesday, provincial officials say the day after a number of public health orders were lifted.
Other changes are coming next month: On March 1, proof of vaccination rules will be eliminated, and on March 15, masks will no longer be mandatory in indoor public places.
"This is going to be a difficult transition phase, and of course we're not done with COVID, so we're going to have to continue to work together to protect Manitoba," said Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba's chief public health officer, in a news conference on Wednesday.
"It's very likely that we'll see more COVID-19 in Manitoba, more waves and more variants, but we have many tools in place to protect ourselves moving forward, vaccines being the most important one."
There have been cases of the Omicron subvariant BA.2 in Manitoba, but there's no evidence of it quickly becoming a dominant strain, Roussin said.
"From what we know of that strain … it is likely more infectious than Omicron, but we're not seeing any significant signal suggesting it's more severe," he said.
"It hasn't changed our approach."
There were two deaths reported in the Winnipeg health region: a man in his 20s and a woman in her 90s linked to the outbreak at Tuxedo Villa personal care home.
The two deaths in the Southern Health region were a man in his 70s and a woman in her 60s.
The deaths in Prairie Mountain Health were a man and a woman in their 80s who were linked to the outbreak at St. Paul's Home.
The total number of COVID-19 deaths in Manitoba is now 1,642.
There are still 614 people in hospital with the virus, including 38 people with COVID-19 in intensive care units, also unchanged from Tuesday.
As of Wednesday, there are 91 patients in Manitoba intensive care units, including both COVID and non-COVID patients. Manitoba's normal, pre-pandemic baseline capacity was 72 ICU beds.
The province reported 352 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, although public health officials have repeatedly said those numbers are a significant undercount of the total number of active cases. Manitoba is restricting access to PCR tests at provincial sites and doesn't track most rapid test results.
The Winnipeg health region has 127 new cases. There are 71 in the Prairie Mountain Health region, 61 in the Interlake-Eastern health region, 54 in the Northern Health Region and 39 in the Southern Health region.
There were 1,595 PCR tests done in Manitoba on Tuesday.
The province's five-day test positivity rate dropped to 21.2 per cent from 22 per cent the day before.
Roussin said Wednesday that Manitobans will now be able to pick up rapid antigen tests at provincial testing sites, whether they have symptoms or not.
The Wednesday briefing comes one day after pandemic capacity limits were lifted for restaurants, licensed premises, entertainment venues, indoor and outdoor sporting events and casinos and gatherings at private residences.
Last week, Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson outlined steps to remove remaining restrictions, including mask mandates and proof of vaccine requirements, by this time next month.
Roussin said last week that government COVID-19 modelling suggested the Omicron wave had peaked and that Manitoba was "turning the corner in the pandemic."
Some experts questioned whether the timeline to remove restrictions and vaccine proof requirements was premature.
A number of new outbreaks were announced on Wednesday, including two in Winnipeg hospitals — Grace Hospital Unit 4 South and St. Boniface Hospital M3.
There are also new outbreaks at the Whitemouth Personal Care Home, Melita Health Centre and Sherwood Personal Care Home in Virden.
The following outbreaks are now over:
- Grace Hospital, Unit 2 South, in Winnipeg.
- Deer Lodge Centre, Tower 3, in Winnipeg.
- Poseidon Care Centre in Winnipeg.
- Victoria General Hospital, Unit 5 South, in Winnipeg.
- Rosewood Lodge in Stonewall.
- Misericordia Health Centre, Unit C2, in Winnipeg.
- Swan Valley Health Centre.
The province also provided an update on public health order enforcement for the week of Feb. 7-13.
During that time, 17 warnings and nine tickets were issued to people who were breaking the rules.
Six fines of $298 were issued for people who wouldn't wear a mask in an indoor public place, and two $1,296 fines were given to people for other public health infractions. A single $5,000 fine was issued to a business.
Of those tickets, seven were issued in the Winnipeg health region and two were given in the Southern Health Region.
WATCH | Full news conference on COVID-19 | February 16, 2022:
- We initially reported that the death of the woman in her 60s in the Southern Health region was linked to Boyne Lodge, and that an outbreak was declared at Grace Hospital Unit 2 South, as reported in a provincial government news release. In fact, the provincial government said in a correction issued later, the woman's death was not linked to Boyne Lodge, and the outbreak at Grace Hospital Unit 2 South was declared over.Feb 17, 2022 1:31 PM CT