Manitoba’s chief public health officer says the province is not out of the woods even though the trajectory of new COVID-19 cases is starting to drop.
Dr. Brent Roussin reported 133 new daily COVID-19 cases and three additional deaths Monday. At the height of the fall spike, the number of daily cases regularly topped 400.
“We were at a place, certainly in early December, where we were in a trajectory that would overwhelm our health-care system,” Roussin said.
“Since then, we’ve seen a very gradual improvement. But the message was we needed Manitobans to stay home, to only go out for essential services.”
On Sunday Manitoba health officials confirmed five more deaths, as well as 151 new cases of the virus.
The latest deaths Monday include a man in his 60s from the Northern Health region, a man in his 80s from the Prairie Mountain Health region linked to an outbreak at McCreary/Alonsa Health Centre, and a woman in her 80s from Winnipeg linked to an outbreak at Bethania Mennonite Personal Care Home.
The victims bring the province’s total number of deaths linked to novel coronavirus to 741.
Roussin also said Monday case tracing has found 538 recent cases and 2,879 contacts are tied to holiday gatherings.
By wide margins, Winnipeg and the northern health region have the most active cases of the virus right now. In Winnipeg 47 new cases were reported Monday, and 34 new infections were reported in the north.
The numbers come as Indigenous organizations are sounding the alarm, saying First Nations cases currently make up 61 per cent of all active cases, and 40 per cent of today’s new cases.
Roussin couldn’t say whether any new policy changes are being considered.
“We have our rapid response teams right in these communities, we’ve had the travel restrictions in place for northern Manitoba … and then there’s been a lot of work done in expanding the access to alternate isolation accommodations,” he said.
Presently, some of the hardest-hit communities include Shamattawa and Oxford House.
The other new infections Monday include 13 in the Southern Health region, 28 in the Prairie Mountain Health region, and 11 in the Interlake-Eastern Health region.
Manitoba has now recorded 26,450 COVID-19 cases since March, and health officials said 3,414 cases remain active as of Monday morning.
Roussin said Monday he stands by his decision to extend code red restrictions until at least January 22nd — saying hospitals are still being strained.
Provincial data shows there are currently 162 people in hospital with active COVID-19 as well as 154 who are no longer infectious but continue to require care, for a total of 316 hospitalizations.
There are 21 people in intensive care units with active COVID-19 as well as 16 who are no longer infectious but continue to require critical care for a total of 37 ICU patients.
Numbers from the province show 1,566 tests for novel coronavirus were completed Sunday, bringing the total number of lab tests completed since early February 2020 to 440,532.
The current five-day test positivity rate is 10 per cent provincially — down from 10.7 per cent a week ago — while Winnipeg’s rate has fallen to 8.8 per cent from 11.8 per cent.
Health officials said an outbreak has been declared at Headingley Correctional Centre, while an outbreak at Benito Health Centre, in Benito, has ended.
On Monday the province kicked off an ambitious program that aims to have all personal care home residents receive their first vaccine dose within the next 28 days.
The province says 10,353 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered across the province as of Monday.
–With files from The Canadian Press and Will Reimer