New Winnipeg data puts highest rates of COVID-19 in Seven Oaks, Assiniboine South

Winnipeggers have a more detailed look at cases of COVID-19 in the city on Friday after the province released a geographical breakdown.

Data released Friday breaks Winnipeg cases into 12 districts, based on where each individual lives

New Winnipeg data released Friday breaks down COVID-19 cases into 12 districts. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

New, more detailed data on COVID-19 in Winnipeg puts the highest rate of cases in the city's northernmost district, followed by neighbourhoods in the southwest.

A total of 92 cases have been reported in people living in the Seven Oaks district, including 29 active cases, says provincial data released Friday that breaks the city's COVID-19 cases down into 12 separate districts.

The Seven Oaks district, which is north Winnipeg west of the Red River, reported the highest incidence rate in the city at 11.19 cases of COVID-19 per 10,000 people. The district includes West Kildonan, Garden City and the Maples.

That district is followed by Assiniboine South, which includes Charleswood in Winnipeg's southwest, which posted a lower number of cases — 39, including four that were active on Friday — but the city's second-highest incidence rate at 10.54 cases per 10,000 people.

The data released Friday followed a promise from Health Minister Cameron Friesen to share more detailed data about Winnipeg cases, nearly a month after the province started publishing district-level data on COVID-19 cases in other parts of Manitoba.

Cases are organized into districts based on the address on each individual's Manitoba health card at the time they tested positive, Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba's chief provincial public health officer, said earlier this week.

Location data reflects the address on the Manitoba health card of each infected individual at the time they tested positive, not necessarily the location where infection occurred. (Jacques Marcoux/CBC)

Dan Chateau, community health sciences professor at the University of Manitoba, says the data is intriguing because it suggests COVID-19 is not adhering to the health trend of seeing worse outcomes in core urban areas.

"It doesn't seem to be following the typical pattern we kind of see in urban areas, where worst health is in the core and health improves as you move away from it," said Chateau, who is also a research scientist at the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy.

"We've seen other analyses show … longer life expectancy out in the suburbs of Winnipeg and much shorter in the core. And COVID-19 doesn't seem to be following that general trend."

Chateau said it's difficult to speculate why cases of COVID-19 may distributed in a certain way in Winnipeg.

The red illustrates active cases of COVID-19 in each district. (Jacques Marcoux/CBC)

Incidence rates are posted because just publishing the overall number of cases in each district may be misleading due to variations in population across areas, Roussin said.

After Seven Oaks, the highest number of cases reported by district was in Fort Garry, in south Winnipeg west of the Red River, at 68 cases, including 15 that are considered active. However, that district posted a middle-range incidence rate at 6.87 cases per 10,000 people.

The lowest incidence rate was posted in the St. Boniface district at 2.17 cases per 10,000 people. The district has reported a total of 14 cases, including three that are active.

Manitoba announced 15 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, including eight in Winnipeg. The new cases mean more than half of Manitoba's active COVID-19 cases are now in Winnipeg —160 out of the provincial total of 287.

Incidence rates across the city range from 11.19 in Seven Oaks to 2.17 in St. Boniface. But most districts — eight in total — reported rates between roughly 5.7 and 7.7 cases per 10,000 people.

The four districts that fall outside of that range are Seven Oaks and Assiniboine South at the higher end, at 11.19 and 10.54 respectively, and St. James-Assiniboia and St. Boniface at the lower end, at 4.37 and 2.17 respectively.

Appetite for more data

Public Health may be able to learn more about COVID-19 distribution in Winnipeg by analyzing cases in combination with contact tracing and data about socio-economic status, age, gender and other factors related to cases and locations.

"The more general information may be secondary to the information they gain from contact tracing. But from a macro perspective, it can really tell you a lot about how COVID-19 is moving through the community," Chateau said.

"Knowing a little bit about [socio-economic status] and ethnicity and age could tell you some extra information about how the disease is progressing through the city of Winnipeg."

Over the past few months, the province has gradually increased how much information it shares with the public about COVID-19 in Manitoba. Roussin has previously resisted sharing more specific geographical data for Winnipeg.

Until last month, the province released information about where COVID-19 cases occurred only by health region (the province has five).

On Aug. 13, Manitoba started breaking down cases into 68 separate health districts, but continued to treat all of Winnipeg as a single unit.

Earlier this week, Roussin said there's an appetite among Manitobans for more data.

"It's not to guide actions. It's just to provide that information," Roussin said at the time. "I think Manitobans have repeatedly said they want more and more information, and so this is just another step in that direction."