13 new COVID-19 variant cases found in Manitoba
WINNIPEG -- Provincial health officials have announced 13 new cases of COVID-19 variants in Manitoba.
On Tuesday, officials said in the daily news bulletin that five new cases of the B.1.1.7 variant have been found and eight cases of the B.18.104.22.168 variant have also been confirmed.
The B.1.1.7 variant was first identified in the United Kingdom while the B.22.214.171.124 variant was first located in South Africa.
Officials said the B.126.96.36.199 variant was found through retroactive screening of samples from February and they added there doesn't appear to be any community transmission.
Of the cases identified, the province said they are from Winnipeg and the majority are linked to travel or close contact.
So far, there have been 11 B.1.1.7 variant cases and 11 B.188.8.131.52 variants.
“We’ve learned unfortunately how quickly the variants of concern can spread,” said Cynthia Carr, epidemiologist and founder of EPI Research. “We need to remember even if the number is still down, slightly small, they are increasing.”
To give some context, she said in Ontario the UK variant of concern has more than doubled in the past 15 days. There were 400 cases and then today there was 908, Carr said.
Carr reminds people that at the beginning we were talking about the number of days it took for case numbers to double, and how we wanted that to be as far apart as possible—and the shorter it got the more concerned we were.
“Not to scare people, but this is an example where something that sounds like a small number, it’s hard for us to imagine what concept of exponential spread means until we see it and we see it getting out of control.”
She is keeping an eye on what happens in the coming weeks, one metric she is watching is the percentage of how many total daily cases are variants of concern.
“So if we see the percentages go up that could show us that the variants of concern could be taking over and then very quickly become the dominant strain, so we want to watch that as well.”
To help keep transmission down while the province rolls out vaccines, she said it’s just as important now as ever for people to follow public health orders and advice.
The province also announced one new death and 66 new cases. One previously announced death and four previously announced cases were removed due to a data correction.
The death was a woman in her 70s from the Winnipeg area.
The Northern Health Region continued to have the highest number of new cases with 36, while Winnipeg had 19. The Southern Health Region had seven cases, four were from the Interlake-Eastern Health Region and the Prairie Mountain Health Region had zero new cases.
There have been 907 deaths and 32,350 cases since March 2020.
The five-day test positivity rate is 3.8 per cent across the province and 2.7 per cent in Winnipeg.
Manitoba currently has 1,153 active cases and 30,290 people have recovered.
There are 55 people in hospital with active cases of COVID-19; 10 of those people are in intensive care.
There are another 108 people in hospital who are no longer infectious but still require care, including 12 in ICU.
On Monday, 1,235 tests were performed, bringing the total to 539,998 since February 2020.