Manitoba premier rejects call for new measures as COVID-19 cases spike
WINNIPEG -- Manitoba is in the midst of a third COVID-19 wave and this time it is focused on variants of concern.
Case counts have once again started to soar with the province adding 261 alone on Thursday, the test positivity rate is 6.5 per cent in Winnipeg and 6.4 per cent throughout the province.
While more vaccines are going into Manitoban arms, the rollout can't keep up with the rapid spread of COVID.
This has led to calls from doctors in the province to demand the government tighten restrictions so that the medical system doesn't get overworked.
“Most of my colleagues feel that, given what’s happening to the east and the west of us, that it’s not enough," said Dr. Renate Singh, an anesthesiologist.
“Everyone is already exhausted, physically and emotionally.”
It is a call echoed on Wednesday by Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman, who said the province should consider reintroducing the measures from last fall.
Bowman would not specify which restrictions, but did say he was surprised gatherings are not limited to the household only.
“My overall concern is that if we wait for rising numbers to react to, then that’s too late," he said.
Premier Brian Pallister responded to those calls on Thursday saying the province currently has some of the most stringent restrictions in the country.
"We've been very effectively bringing the number of cases down. Those numbers are now changing. The third wave is here and we have been saying it is coming for literally months," said Pallister.
He added since the start of the pandemic, his government has received criticism on both ends of the spectrum that they aren't doing enough or that they are doing too much.
Pallister said he understands the perspective of the doctors but noted the government also has to worry about the economic side of another shutdown.
"But that ICU doctor doesn't wait on people in a retail business and doesn't understand that if we shut down every part of our economy we are going to adversely affect not only the fiscal health of a big chunk of our province, but the mental health as well."
He said the province is ready to put more restrictions in if needed, but the government also has to make sure people can work, adding he knows people don't want to rely on a government program to earn money.
Pallister said he knows thousands of people will try to give him advice on what to do during the pandemic and expects those comments to continue until things get back to normal, but he added he only takes advice from one person.
"I'm going to stick with Brent Roussin as my principal advisor when it comes to this."
He added Manitobans need to continue to practise the fundamentals and if they continue to do that, then the province will make it through COVID-19.
-with files from CTV's Jeff Keele