Manitoba has released a report showing COVID-19 has disproportionately affected Indigenous, Black and other people of colour in the province.
“This is systemic and it is seen in every jurisdiction,” Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer, said Monday.
Roussin said the province’s race and ethnicity data show a similar pattern to information in other jurisdictions in Canada and around the world.
He said it’s not about people in communities making bad choices. COVID-19 infections are largely linked to pre-existing inequities, including in housing and employment.
“We know people in (Black, Indigenous and people of colour) communities are more likely to live in lower-income neighbourhoods, live in overcrowded and multi-generational households,” Roussin said.
“They are also more likely to have low-wage occupations.”
The report compiled Manitoba infections data from May 1 to Dec. 31, 2020.
Fifty-one per cent of people who tested positive for COVID-19 self-identified as Black, Indigenous or of colour, but 35 per cent of people in Manitoba belong to that group.
The report said North American Indigenous people made up 17 per cent of infections, despite representing about 13 per cent of the overall population. Black and African people, accounting for four per cent of the population, made up eight per cent of positive tests.
Filipino people also had significant infection rates — 12 per cent of cases, while representing seven per cent of the population.
South Asian people, three per cent of the population, made up eight per cent of positive cases.
The report noted that white people experienced less COVID-19 than would be expected based on population size.
On Monday, Manitoba reported one more death and 35 new cases of the novel coronavirus.
The province brought in significant restrictions last fall that shut down restaurants and limited group sizes after a surge of infections, hospitalizations and deaths.
The number of new cases has significantly dropped in recent weeks. The five-day test positivity rate was at 3.9 per cent provincially and three per cent for Winnipeg.
The provincial government has indicated that details on what public-health restrictions are to be further loosened are to be provided Tuesday. Roussin said it’s important to take a cautious approach.
“We are going to gradually reopen and stay open.”
Vaccines also became available for the general population in Manitoba last week based on age. Roussin said the rollout has expanded to include people born in 1930 and earlier and First Nations people born in 1950 and earlier.
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.
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