Manitoba health officials say the highly-transmissible Delta variant, first identified in India, has now been found in all five regional health authorities across the province.
According to a provincial online database keeping track of variants of concern, Manitoba has reported 263 confirmed Delta cases since the province’s first case was identified in late April.
The majority of Delta cases — 40 per cent — are from the Winnipeg health region. Southern health comes next at 29 per cent, with the Northern health region accounting for 24 per cent.
“We do know that the Delta cases have been increasing in number and that is not unexpected,” said Dr. Jazz Atwal, Manitoba’s deputy chief provincial public health officer, at a Friday press conference, adding two-doses of vaccine are proving to be effective at protecting against the strain.
“Getting vaccinated will help prevent severe illness from this variant, and continuing to follow the fundamentals will help protect us even further.”
Atwal said 86 per cent of the province’s Delta cases weren’t immunized or became infected within 14 days of getting their first dose.
Of Manitoba’s 1,098 active COVID-19 cases, 571 are variants of concern, and at least 14 of those are Delta cases.
But 167 active variant cases are listed on the province’s website as being as yet “unspecified,” meaning officials can’t yet say exactly which variant they are.
Atwal explained Friday the province currently screens positive COVID-19 tests for the Alpha, Beta, and Gamma variants, meaning those results come back much sooner than Delta variants, which has taken as long as 10 days to be confirmed through sequencing.
He said that will change next week, when the province plans changes to its sampling process to include faster screening for both the Delta and Kappa variants.
“We’ll be screening for five different variants and getting an answer much quicker in relation to Delta cases in Manitoba or Kappa cases,” he said.
“Instead of having a seven to 10 day delay, it’ll only be a matter of 48 hours or 72 hours before we get those screen results back.”
Manitoba reported 145 new COVID-19 cases over the past two days — 54 Friday and 91 on Canada Day — and seven additional deaths over the two day span.
The province’s daily case numbers have been falling in recent weeks after hitting a peak of 603 cases reported in a single day back in May.
Although he anticipates COVID-19 case numbers will continue to drop in the days ahead, Atwal says Manitobans still need to focus on getting everyone vaccinated.
As of Friday morning 74.2 per cent of eligible Manitobans 12 and up have received one shot of vaccine and 46 per cent have received two doses.
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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