Manitoba detects COVID-19 variant first recorded in U.K
WINNIPEG -- Manitoba is reporting its first case of a COVID-19 variant in the province.
During a news conference on Tuesday announcing changes to the province’s public health orders, Dr. Brent Roussin, the chief provincial public health officer, confirmed the B-117 variant, also known as the U.K. variant, was discovered in Manitoba following a COVID-19 test.
Roussin said the case was related to international travel, and the patient has since recovered.
The initial test results were received on Jan. 22, and the test was sent to the National Microbiology Laboratory for further sequencing, Roussin said.
He added the results were received by Manitoba late Monday evening.
Five household contacts were identified, Roussin said, and all were self-isolating. None of the household contacts have developed COVID-19.
“This further illustrates why we have our travel restrictions in place to protect the introduction into the community of these types of variants,” Roussin said.
“Because things are controlled, because of the restrictions we have in place and (the) protocols, we’re still okay to continue with our reopening plans, but it’s also a reminder that we’re not out of the woods, and we need to be cautious.”
Manitoba now requires all travellers coming into the province to self-isolate for 14 days due to the presence of COVID-19 variants in Canada.
Roussin said the discovery of the variant was not unexpected, noting other provinces have seen cases of it in recent weeks.
“We've set up our protocols for just this type of scenario to identify it, to ensure that people that are high risk of it are appropriately isolated to decrease the likelihood of that transmission into the community,” he said, adding there is no evidence to suggest further transmission within Manitoba.
Virologist Jason Kindrachuk said scientists of getting a picture of what the variant looks like in terms of severity, but it will still take time to know everything about it.
“We know it’s more transmissible,” he said. “Having a virus that is more contagious, but has the same disease severity is a big concern for us.
“It will put more people in the hospital if it starts spreading too widely. It’s incumbent on all of us across the province, from the premier’s office to the level of us as individuals, to try and keep transmission low as much as possible.”
Kindrachuk added people need to take a step back on the idea that vaccines alone are the solution to the pandemic.
“It doesn’t give us the reason to move away from all public health measures until that transmission is potentially at zero and the virus is eliminated as much as possible throughout the region,” he said.
FLIGHT LINKED TO ‘VARIANT OF CONCERN’
On Tuesday, the province updated its online list of potential COVID-19 exposures to include an Air Canada flight linked to a “variant of concern”.
People sitting in rows 13-19 on Air Canada flight AC271 were potentially exposed to the variant.
Provincial officials told CTV News, the flight information was posted in an effort to be open and transparent with Manitobans, adding that passengers on the flight would have been required to self-isolate upon arrival in Manitoba, therefore the risk of widespread transmission was low.