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Winnipeg 4 schools notified of possible exposures to more transmissible coronavirus variants

Posted in Canada, Featured

Published on March 22, 2021 with No Comments

Manitoba’s five-day test positivity rate up to 5.2%, 3.7% in Winnipeg.

Four Winnipeg schools have been notified of possible exposures to more transmissible coronavirus variants.

Letters have gone out to affected students and staff at St. Paul’s High School, Our Lady of Victory School, Highbury School and École Rivière-Rouge, Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief public health officer, said at a news conference on Monday.

The people with the variants, classes and other close contacts are isolating, he said.

Roussin also announced an additional case of a variant of concern, a B117 variant case in the Prairie Mountain Health region. The person has recovered. 

There are also 66 new COVID-19 cases and another death, he said.

Public health officials are still investigating the sources of the variant cases in schools, Roussin said.

“It’s still early for definitive answers, but a lot of the reports, we’re hearing … that there may be increased severity, that we’re seeing younger people be needing hospitalization or ICU admission, we’re seeing longer stays in hospital, so we do need to prepare for that,” he said.

“This is why we’re taking very aggressive case and contact investigation and public health measures to try to do what we can to keep this variant of concern from spreading widely in our communities.” 

Anyone who is considered a close contact will be notified by public health officials, he said. Parents are asked to monitor their children for symptoms and get them tested if any develop.

More than two-thirds of the new COVID-19 cases in Manitoba — 45 — are in the Winnipeg area. There are 17 cases in the Northern Health Region, four in the Southern Health region and no new cases in either the Interlake-Eastern or Prairie Mountain Health regions.

A man in his 50s from the Winnipeg health region died, but that death took place in December, Roussin said.

On Sunday, the province reported seven deaths; four of them happened between November and February, three earlier this month.

Roussin said Monday that one of the deaths — a woman in her 90s — is linked to a previous outbreak at Maples Long Term Care Home. Another — a woman in her 80s — is linked to a previous outbreak at the Misericordia Hospital.

The deaths were reported to Public Health late last week following case reviews.

“These reviews will take place from time to time, and our data is updated regularly,” Roussin said.

Test positivity rate grows

Manitoba’s five-day test positivity rate is 5.2 per cent, up from five per cent on Sunday. In Winnipeg, that rate is 3.7 per cent, up from 3.6 per cent on Sunday.

There are now 138 COVID-19 patients hospitalized in Manitoba, up three since Sunday. There’s also an increase of three in intensive care, for a total of 25.

“The message right now is we have to be cautious, but that shouldn’t take away our optimism,” Roussin said.

“We have spring and summer coming. We have plans to get the majority of Manitobans vaccinated fairly quickly. I think there needs to be that level of optimism. I think Manitobans need to see that there is hope, we just can’t let up right now until we get more and more vaccine.”

There are currently 1,205 active cases and 31,285 people have recovered from COVID-19.

There were 1,533 COVID-19 tests done in Manitoba on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the outbreak is now over at St. Boniface Hospital unit E5.

Vaccine eligibility expands

As of Monday morning, all Manitobans 65 and older and First Nations people 45 and older can get appointments for the vaccine.

So far, nearly 8.5 per cent of eligible Manitobans over 18 have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The criteria for vaccination has changed numerous times this month as the federal government upped vaccine shipments to Manitoba. On March 3, all Manitobans 89 and older and First Nations people 69 and older were eligible. As of today, anyone 65 and older and First Nations people 45 and older qualify.

Those who are eligible can book an appointment at vaccination supersites or pop-up clinics online or by calling 1-844-626-8222

“I just encourage Manitobans, book your appointment as soon as you become eligible. The more and more Maniotbans we get vaccinated and protected, then the more likely we are to start being able to lift these public health measures,” Roussin said.

The seven-day average for daily reported cases has crept up to the mid-80s after dipping to the low 50s earlier this month. 

Test positivity has gradually increased as well: in early March, it dropped to three per cent for all of Manitoba and just above two per cent in Winnipeg.

With files from Bryce Hoye


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