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First case of Omicron variant reported in Manitoba


Manitoba is reporting its first case of the Omicron variant in the province.

According to a bulletin sent from the province on Tuesday, the positive case was a person who recently travelled from one of the 10 federally advised countries and has experienced mild symptoms.

“Public health is conducting aggressive case and contact management,” the province wrote in a statement. “If additional public health risks are assessed and it is deemed necessary to protect the health of others, more information will be released.”

The discovery of the Omicron variant in Manitoba is not a shock to Jason Kindrachuk, a virologist at the University of Manitoba.

"Obviously, it is unfortunate," he said. " It is something we didn't want to see emerge in the first place but it is not surprising given how far and how broadly spread we've seen this variant of concern as people have started to look for it."

Kindrachuk said while everyone is talking about the Omicron variant right now, they should not lose sight of the Delta variant which is still being transmitted in communities.

"Our best course of action right now is to keep doing the things we've been doing for Delta and that will also help with keeping Omicron under control."

He said only early data has been released on the Omicron variant, and there is still more questions to be answered about the variant's impacts.

"We also need to figure out the golden question of how do vaccines protect against this particular variant?" he said. "We need to know for people that are higher-risk groups whether or not that there is a potential concern in regards to vaccine effectiveness.

The discovery comes on the same day Manitoba reported 93 new COVID-19 cases and four additional deaths.

The deaths were announced on the province’s COVID-19 dashboard, bringing the total during the pandemic to 1,338.

Tuesday’s new cases include 48 people who are not vaccinated, 40 people who are fully vaccinated, and five people with one vaccine dose.

Manitoba’s five-day test positivity rate is 6.4 per cent.

The last time cases were below 100 in Manitoba was on November 29, when 86 cases were reported.

The Southern Health region had the highest number of new COVID-19 cases reported Tuesday with 38, followed by Winnipeg with 34. There were 11 new COVID-19 cases in the Northern Health Region, six new cases in the Interlake-Eastern Health Region and four new cases in the Prairie Mountain Health Region.

Since the pandemic started, there have been 68,938 cases reported. There are currently 1,565 cases in Manitoba, and 66,035 people have recovered.

Currently, 152 people are hospitalized in Manitoba with COVID-19, including 95 people with active cases. Of the active cases, 59 people are not vaccinated, 30 are fully vaccinated and six people are partially vaccinated.

There are 32 people receiving intensive care for COVID-19, including 24 people with active cases. Of the active cases in ICU, 22 people are not vaccinated, while two people are fully vaccinated. 

-with files from CTV's Maralee Caruso Top Stories

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