Manitoba

291 new COVID-19 cases reported in Manitoba as 2 more school outbreaks declared

Manitoba declared two more outbreaks at Winnipeg schools and reported 291 more COVID-19 cases in the province on Tuesday as another death linked to a more contagious coronavirus variant was also announced.

Death linked to more contagious coronavirus variant announced; 11 deaths tied to variants so far

Manitoba's COVID-19 cases continue to rise. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

Manitoba declared two more outbreaks at Winnipeg schools and reported 291 more COVID-19 cases in the province on Tuesday, as another death linked to a more contagious coronavirus variant was also announced.

A man in his 40s from Winnipeg died due to the B117 coronavirus variant originally detected in the U.K., a news release says.

There have now been 11 deaths in the province linked to variants, which spread more easily than the original strain of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

The total number of variant cases also jumped 361 since Saturday — from 2,344 to 2,705. 

Of Manitoba's 2,692 active cases, 993 are variants. 

Outbreaks were declared at Holy Cross School and The King's School in Winnipeg. Both have been moved to the red, or critical, level of the province's pandemic response system. Holy Cross has moved to remote learning until May 12, and King's until May 16.

Both are members of the Manitoba Federation of Independent Schools, the federation's executive director, Teresita Chiarella, said via email. Chiarella isn't aware of any other schools represented by her organization that have moved to remote learning.

The province has declared 11 official outbreaks at schools since the beginning of the pandemic.

There are three active school outbreaks (including Marie-Anne Gaboury School), as cases among students and teachers have increased.

There have been 20 cases associated with Holy Cross in the past two weeks, 21 at Marie-Anne Gaboury and another 21 at King's School, according to provincial data.

The rise in cases is causing an increasing number of school worker absences due to isolation requirements, several divisions said on Monday.

A growing number of Winnipeg schools have moved to remote learning recently without waiting for the province to declare outbreaks.

Manitoba public health officials declare an outbreak at a school only after there is "further spread to staff or students beyond the close contacts or cohort initially identified as exposed from the case," a spokesperson said in an email Monday.

There can be multiple positive cases in the same school at the same time linked to exposures in the community, but public health officials will not typically consider that worthy of declaring an outbreak, according to the province.

This is a departure from the general definition in other settings, where two or more cases linked to a specific setting warrants declaring an outbreak.

The union that represents Manitoba teachers has called for the province to move all Winnipeg schools to remote learning, but the chief provincial public health officer said Monday there are no plans to implement widespread school closures.

Nearly 600 COVID-19 cases have been identified in schools in the past two weeks. More than 100 of those are school staff.

Fifteen schools are in remote learning and 223 schools have had one or more cases in the past 14 days.

Positivity rate, hospital numbers rise

Meanwhile, Winnipeg's test positivity rate continues to rise; it went from 8.7 to 9.2 per cent on Tuesday. The provincial rate also increased, from eight to 8.5 per cent.

The new COVID-19 cases in Manitoba are mostly in Winnipeg, where 212 cases were identified. Another 31 have been detected in the Prairie Mountain Health region, 29 in Southern Health, 12 in Interlake-Eastern and seven in Northern Health.

Manitoba's COVID-19 caseload has been climbing for weeks and officials imposed a series of restrictions just under a week ago in an attempt to stem the spread.

Hospital numbers have increased since then: there are 182 people in hospital on Tuesday, including 47 in intensive care. Two weeks ago, there were 132 people in hospital due to COVID-19, 33 of them in ICU.

At the peak of Manitoba's second wave, there were 129 patients in ICU overall — including those in hospital due to COVID-19 and due to other health issues.

As of Tuesday, there are a total of 108 in ICU due to COVID-19 and other health conditions, according to the province.

The provincial vaccine task force has expanded vaccine eligibility to a series of high-risk areas in recent weeks, announcing three more areas in Winnipeg on Tuesday — West Kildonan, Old St. Vital and Elmwood.

Three more areas of Winnipeg, including the neighbourhoods of West Kildonan, Old St. Vital and Elmwood, have been given priority access to COVID-19 vaccines. (Brooke Schreiber/CBC)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bryce Hoye

Reporter

Bryce Hoye is an award-winning journalist and science writer with a background in wildlife biology and interests in courts, climate, health and more. He recently finished up a stint as a producer for CBC's Quirks & Quarks. He is the Prairie rep for OutCBC. Story idea? Email bryce.hoye@cbc.ca.

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