According to the latest COVID-19 dashboard, there are now 664 Manitobans in hospital with COVID-19, which is one fewer than Thursday.
This comes the same day Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, said January is shaping up to be the deadliest month of the pandemic.
According to Health Canada, more than 10,000 Canadians have been hospitalized over the past week, which is up nearly 50 per cent from the week before, and there have been over 100 deaths per day this week across the country.
In Manitoba, ICU numbers are holding at 50 for the second day in a row but virologist Jason Kindrachuk says if we want to keep Omicron from spreading and mutating into another deadly strain, we need to get vaccination numbers up — and fast.
“By their nature, viruses mutate and they change. The more ongoing transmission you have, the more opportunity there is for the right number of random mutations to come into place at the same time and actually give you a change for the virus,” he says.
The provincial COVID-19 dashboard says those who are not fully vaccinated are 11 times more likely to be admitted to the ICU with the virus and 10 times more likely to die from COVID-19.
Critics have described the Conservative government’s approach to the pandemic as reactive instead of proactive, and Kindrachuk says whatever policy comes into place surrounding public health needs to “follow the science and be fluid.”
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“The virus has certainly changed over time and if we don’t match our policies over time to meet that, then the virus is going to exploit those cracks,” Kindrachuk said.
“Let’s not get caught up in what the policies were a year ago or 15 months ago. We need to adapt them to address the situation that is currently at hand.”
Addressing the current situation properly and rapidly increasing vaccination rates are two tools Manitobans can use to flatten the Omicron variant and avoid a mutation, which could fuel a fifth wave.
“The longer you let this virus transmit, certainly within areas with low vaccine or immune coverage, you see new variants emerge,” Kindrachuk said.
“It’s a random process and it’s happening all the time and once in a while we get a nasty new one that emerges. If we look at historically where we’ve been and we let the virus keep transmitting, we’re going to see another one.”
In some positive news, 7,200 Manitobans rolled up their sleeves to get a vaccination on Thursday, 110 of which were second doses as the number of eligible children aged 5-11 is increasing every day.
If you’re looking for a place to get your dose, the RBC Convention Centre is once again taking walk-in appointments.