Health officials say they have identified 18 more confirmed cases of the of the B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant in Manitoba.
Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief public health officer said Monday 17 of the new cases of the variant, first discovered in the United Kingdom, come from the Winnipeg Health region, while a lone new case was found in the Interlake-Eastern Health region.
Roussin said nine of the province’s now 41 lab-confirmed variant of concern cases have not been linked to either travel or close contact with a known case. He said 19 of the cases are considered active.
“This is getting concerning,” he said. “We have to be very cautious — the more we interact the more likely we’re going to be exposed to these viruses.
“We see that when these variants of concern take a foothold in the transmission, when they become the dominant strain, we see those numbers in those jurisdictions climb rapidly.”
Roussin said investigations into the latest variants of concern are ongoing, and public health will warn of any risk to the public.
Manitoba has now reported 30 cases of B.1.1.7 as well as 11 cases of another variant of concern, the B.1.351 strain, first discovered in South Africa.
Last week public health warned of three possible exposures to the UK variant at two Winnipeg restaurants and a city hair salon the previous weekend.
The UK variant is up to 50% more transmissible than the virus that surged last spring and again in the fall, making it more adept at thwarting measures that were previously effective, World Health Organization experts have warned. Scientists have concluded that it is also more deadly.
No new deaths reported
There were no new deaths connected to COVID-19 reported Monday, but 50 new infections have been identified, Roussin said.
Thirty-one of the new cases come from the Winnipeg Health region, three were reported in the Southern Health region, and 16 were found in the Northern Health region. No new cases were reported Monday in the Prairie Mountain Health region and the Interlake-Eastern Health region.
The current five-day COVID-19 test positivity rate is 4.8 per cent provincially and 3.5 per cent in Winnipeg.
As of Monday Roussin said 908 of the province’s COVID-19 cases remain active.
There are now 151 people in hospital as a result of novel coronavirus and 23 patients in ICU connected to the virus, according to provincial data.
The province said Monday outbreak have ended at Poseidon Care Centre in Winnipeg, the Heritage Life Personal Care Home in Niverville and Valleyview Care Centre Long Term Care Home in Brandon.
Laboratory testing data show 1,516 tests were completed Sunday, bringing the total number of lab tests completed since early February 2020 to 551,209.
Since last March 32,793 COVID-19 infections have been reported in Manitoba and 917 Manitobans with the virus have died.
Over the weekend, Manitoba reported 138 new cases and five additional deaths.
Vaccine eligibility expanded
Health officials said Monday the age eligibility for those able to schedule an immunization at a super site or pop-up clinic is expanding is to include those aged 77 or older and First Nation people aged 57 or older.
Over the weekend eligibility was also expanded to include:
- health-care workers, who may or may not provide direct patient care, working in outpatient health care settings including clinics, diagnostic imaging, laboratories, patient transport, blood donor centres, surgical centres, elderly day programs and home-based care (expanded to include workers without direct patient care, no age restrictions); and
- people working in congregate living facilities (no age restrictions).
The province vaccination appointments are open at super sites in Winnipeg, Brandon, Thompson, Selkirk and Morden and at pop-up sites located across the province.
Appointments can be made by calling 1-844-626-8222 and the latest eligibility information is available on the province’s website.
The most recent provincial vaccination data shows 106,931 shots have been given across Manitoba, including 73,009 first doses and 33,922 second doses.
To date Manitoba has been delivered 179,720 doses of vaccine, including 112,320 doses of Pfizer vaccine, 49,400 doses of the Moderna vaccine, and 18,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/Covishield vaccine.
Health officials say another 14,040 doses of Pfizer vaccine are expected to arrive this week.
–With files from the Associated Press
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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