Manitobans will soon face stricter public health orders to curb rising COVID-19 case numbers, the province’s chief public health officer said Wednesday.
“We do have a number of restrictions in place. We see numbers rising despite that, so more is going to be required,” said Dr. Brent Roussin, who added that details would come soon.
“We’re left again at this place where, if the trajectory stays where we think it will, we’re set with overwhelming the health-care system.”
Health officials reported 143 new cases and two additional COVID-19 deaths Wednesday. Federal data tracking shows Manitoba has the second-highest rate of infection among the provinces behind Saskatchewan.
New infections continued to be concentrated, on a per-capita basis, in the southern health region, which has the lowest vaccine uptake.
The region has roughly 15 per cent of Manitoba’s population, but accounted for almost half the new cases Wednesday and just over half of active cases in intensive care.
Manitoba already limits access to venues such as cinemas, restaurants and pro sporting events to people who are fully vaccinated. Gatherings in private homes are limited to members of one other household if anyone in attendance is unvaccinated.
In the southern health region, except for a few bedroom communities near Winnipeg, capacity at retail stores is limited to 50 per cent.
Roussin said more capacity limits, more restrictions on gatherings, and more venues requiring proof of vaccination are all possibilities.
“We’re working on what we think is going to be the most effective, and then balancing that with the impacts of those restrictions.”
Manitoba’s hospitals were overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases in the spring. Dozens of intensive care patients were flown to other provinces in an attempt to free up bed space.
The Opposition New Democrats said new restrictions need to be implemented immediately.
“Manitoba has been on this road before, we shouldn’t squander all of the sacrifices so many Manitobans have made by getting vaccinated and following public health rules,” NDP Leader Wab Kinew said in a statement.
The government also announced Wednesday that anyone over 18 is now eligible for a third vaccine dose. For most people, the booster will only be given a minimum of six months after a second dose. The decision came a day after Health Canada authorized booster shots for all adults.