There were no new COVID-19-related deaths reported Monday but the rising case counts have public health officials on edge.
The province identified 114 new cases of the virus, bringing the total number of lab-confirmed cases in Manitoba to 35,327. There were no new deaths.
The current five-day test positivity rate is 6.2 per cent across the province, and 5.6 per cent in Winnipeg.
Of the new cases, 62 are in the Winnipeg health region, with 36 in the Northern region, nine in Prairie Mountain, four in the Southern Health region, and three in Interlake-Eastern.
The province’s chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, said behaviour over the last few weeks and on the weekend with the spring weather has him concerned.
“The contact tracing investigations are showing that people are holding larger gatherings in their private residences,” he said.
“We’re seeing host parties, we’re seeing play dates, we’re seeing sleepovers. We’re seeing cases with many more contacts than we’ve saw in the recent past.”
Roussin said new restrictions are likely later this week.
“This could include moving back to tighter restrictions on private gatherings, that we could be looking at that outdoor mask mandate and really looking at anywhere where people gather indoors for a long period of time.
“We cannot be in a third wave and put that strain on our health care system again.”
Manitoba already has a wide set of restrictions in place. Public gatherings are limited to five people indoors and 25 outdoors. Stores, restaurants and churches face attendance caps. People can only have members of one other household visit their homes, and anyone entering the province is required to isolate for 14 days.
But with a rising number of cases, driven by more-contagious variants of the novel coronavirus, more measures are likely needed, Roussin said.
One recent traveller returned from another western province and did not self-isolate as required, Roussin said. Five households have been impacted by that individual’s decision, he added.
Manitoba has not seen a full-blown third wave of the pandemic as of yet, but there are signs it has started.
The daily case count has been rising in recent weeks, and the percentage of people testing positive is up as well.
“I think the third wave is here. How hard it hits us is up to us,” Roussin said.
Meanwhile a new outbreak has been declared in Emerson, with the Emerson Health Centre moving to the critical (red) level.
The province also said it has opened a new “fast pass” testing site at 485 George Ave. in Winkler.
The site gives eligible school staff and people working in licensed child care centres an opportunity to be rapidly tested in a drive-thru format, provided they meet the criteria and can present proof of eligibility.
–With files from The Canadian Press