'The third wave is starting': Manitoba health officials still finalizing new round of restrictions
WINNIPEG -- New public health orders will be coming to Manitoba, but one of the province's top health officials says what those orders will include is still being determined.
Dr. Jazz Atwal, the deputy chief provincial public health officer, said public health officials are working to finalize plans for a new round of health orders. This comes as the province is hearing reports of large group gatherings and travellers not following self-isolation requirements.
"I want to be very clear today – the third wave is starting," Atwal said. "How hard it hits us is going to be up to all of us."
Atwal said there have been more cases of large gatherings, house parties, sleepovers, and playdates, which are against public health orders and create a higher risk of transmission.
He said more information on any new restrictions will be released in the coming days. He said what those restrictions will include depends on the COVID-19 numbers and the epidemiology of the cases.
"In the meantime, we ask you that you do your part to follow the current orders," he said. "Limit your close contacts, stay home as much as possible and help keep your fellow Manitobans safe."
Atwal said indoor gatherings are still the main source of COVID-19 transmission.
'JUST STAY HOME': ATWAL WARNS AGAINST NONESSENTIAL TRAVEL
Atwal emphasized the need for travellers to self-isolate, especially as variant cases take hold in Manitoba and surrounding provinces
He said the first and so far only case of the P1 variant which was reported in Manitoba on Thursday had been exposed to the variant during nonessential travel. He said this case did everything they were supposed to do when they returned, and had one close contact in their household.
But in other situations, clusters linked to nonessential travel have had severe outcomes.
"We are seeing many situations where people are travelling for nonessential reasons, people are travelling together with friends and families," Atwal said.
"Then they come home with a nasty souvenir from their travels – COVID-19."
Atwal said in one case, a person was infected with the B.1.1.7. variant while travelling for nonessential reasons and brought it back with them, infecting several others.
Atwal said there are six cases linked to this cluster so far, with at least one person in the intensive care unit. Dozens of others are now in self-isolation, Atwal said.
"Travellers must self-isolate," Atwal said. "Self-isolating and getting tested is how you will keep your family and neighbours safe. Leisure or nonessential travel could have grave impacts for your family or for your neighbours."
Current health orders require anyone entering Manitoba to self-isolate for 14 days, except for certain critical service providers travelling for essential reasons.
Atwal said now is not the time to be leaving Manitoba if you don't have to.
"Unless there is an essential reason to travel – just don't. Just stay at home," he said.