116 more coronavirus variant cases discovered in Manitoba
53 more COVID-19 cases, no new deaths from the illness reported Monday
Another 116 cases of the more contagious coronavirus variants of concern have been identified in Manitoba, public health officials say.
The spike in cases is because the province is now reporting variant cases identified through lab screening, before they're subjected to sequencing at a lab, Dr. Brent Roussin said at a news conference on Monday.
"To date, we have only been reporting sequence-positive VOCs [variants of concern], but because our manner of screening has become so precise, Manitoba will now start to report on all samples that screen positive as a variant of concern," Roussin said.
"That's why today we're going to see a jump in the number of variant of concern cases."
Roussin says many other jurisdictions are reporting the different coronavirus strains this way.
"Sequencing is, of course, a much more complex and time-consuming component of detection of these variants," he said.
That further testing is also becoming less important because the B117 coronavirus variant, which was first detected in the U.K., is becoming more dominant in Manitoba, as it is in many other jurisdictions, Roussin said.
"One day last week, up to a third of our cases had screened positive for B117, and this is showing us that the B117 strain, like many other jurisdictions in Canada, is becoming the predominant strain [in Manitoba]," he said.
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The source of most of the cases is close household contacts, he says, though there are some cases where the source of transmission is unknown.
Manitoba also reported 53 more COVID-19 cases and no new deaths from the illness on Monday.
Of those cases, most are in the Northern Health region — 27 — and in the Winnipeg area — 21. There are also two cases in both the Interlake-Eastern and Prairie Mountain health regions, and one case in the Southern Health region.
Test positivity rate rises
Manitoba's test positivity rate is 4.2 per cent, up from 3.9 per cent on Sunday. Winnipeg's rate is up to 3.3 per cent, from 3.1 the day before.
The total number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Manitoba is up to 149 on Monday, from 140 the day before. That includes 27 patients in intensive care units.
The province now has 1,177 active cases of COVID-19, and 31,864 people have recovered from the illness. There have been 934 deaths from COVID-19 in Manitoba since the start of the pandemic.
Labs completed 1,685 COVID-19 tests on Sunday.
Meanwhile, an outbreak has been declared at St. Amant Health and Transition Services in Winnipeg.
An outbreak at Extendicare Tuxedo Villa in Winnipeg is now over.
AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine use paused
On Monday, Dr. Joss Reimer, the medical lead with Manitoba's Vaccine Implementation Task Force, announced Manitoba is pausing the use of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine on people under the age of 55 out of an abundance of caution, citing safety concerns.
Despite recent findings that there is no increased risk of blood clots overall, a rare but very serious side effect has been seen, primarily in a small number of young women in Europe who have received that vaccine, Reimer said.
The province also announced Monday that the age for vaccine eligibility has dropped by one year. People 64 and over, and First Nations people 44 and over, are now eligible for vaccination.
WATCH | Why the province is pausing AstraZeneca-Oxford rollout
Last week, a scheduling program glitch meant dozens of people with appointments at the Winnipeg vaccination supersite at the RBC Convention Centre waited in line for up to two hours on Friday.
Reimer apologized for that and said the team worked together to ensure the delays were short-lived.
"Since then, we've taken a number of steps to improve our staffing, improve our patient flow. And the situation did stabilize and improve over the weekend. As of this morning, I'm told that the wait times for people at RBC are very low, around 10 to 20 minutes," she said.
Monday's update comes after the province reported 123 confirmed cases connected to coronavirus variants of concern last Friday.
Of those, 109 cases involved the B117 variant and 14 involved the B1351 variant, first reported in South Africa.
WATCH | Full news conference on COVID-19 | March 29, 2021:
- An earlier version of this story, based on information provided by the province, said 136 more coronavirus variant cases had been identified. In fact, the province later clarified there were 116. A provincial spokesperson said the error was due to "a duplication in data processing resulting in higher-than-accurate numbers reported Monday."Mar 31, 2021 3:42 PM CT