WINNIPEG -- Four cases of the COVID-19 variant first detected in India have been reported in Manitoba.

Deputy Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Jazz Atwal made the announcement Friday. The B.1.617 strain is considered a ‘variant of interest’ in Manitoba, not a ‘variant of concern.’

“At this time, Manitoba is not undertaking specific screening for this VOI, or any other VOI,” said Atwal.

Atwal said the four B.1.617 cases were confirmed through sequencing.

“Based on current sequence surveillance on further sequencing of unspecified variants of concern, Manitoba is not seeing widespread transmission of this variant in the province at this time.”

Atwal noted Cadham Provincial Laboratory is not aware of any jurisdiction in Canada specifically screening for the B.1.67 strain, but said cases may be found through sequence surveillance or occasionally from further sequencing of unspecified variants of concern.


There have been 3,393 variant of concern cases since they were first detected in Manitoba. Currently, 1,232 cases are active and 16 people have died.

In total, there have been 2,031 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, 27 cases of the B.1.351 strain, and 17 cases of the P.1 variant. According to provincial data, 1,318 cases are classified as ‘unspecified.’

“Manitobans are reminded that different strains of COVID-19 are circulating in the province at any time, including variants that have developed in Manitoba, as well as variants from other locations,” said Atwal.

He said some variants can transmit more easily, and there are several precautions people can take to reduce their risk.

“We encourage all Manitobans to make their vaccine appointment as soon as they’re eligible, to follow the public health orders in place, and to practise the fundamentals.”