Three new cases of the B.1.1.7. variant found in Manitoba
WINNIPEG -- Public health officials have identified more cases of the B.1.1.7. variant in Manitoba.
On Friday, provincial health officials said three more COVID-19 cases have been confirmed to be the B.1.1.7. variant, which was first identified in the United Kingdom.
All three cases are all linked to international travel and each case has since recovered and completed their self-isolation requirements. The number of contacts for these cases ranges from four people to 24 people.
Dr. Jazz Atwal, the deputy chief provincial public health officer, said none of the cases are linked to First Nations communities.
"There is no evidence of further spread in Manitoba related to the variant. This is not an unexpected development," Atwal said. "We are anticipating variant of concern cases in Manitoba and we are prepared for this."
The province said any additional information about the cases will be provided as investigations continue.
There have been four total cases of this variant in Manitoba. The first case of the B.1.1.7. variant was reported in Manitoba on Feb. 9.
On Friday, Atwal said the province is doing "aggressive" case and contact management with cases of the variant. He said there is no cause for immediate public concern.
Manitoba NDP Health Critic Uzoma Asagwara said Friday there continues to be a lag in the reporting of information regarding variants.
“We're hoping the government can put forward a clear plan in terms of how they intend to curb the transmission of these variants in our community, be transparent about those plans and be proactive," Asagwara said.
Three flights with links to variants of concern are now posted on the province's website from the last week in January.
The flights include:
- AC7513 from Ottawa to Toronto, rows 14-20, on January 26, 2021
- AC 7265 from Toronto to Winnipeg, rows 14-20 on January 26, 2021
- WJ526 from Calgary to Winnipeg, rows 10-16 on January 30, 2021
In Manitoba, someone who has tested positive for a COVID-19 variant of concern is required to isolate for 10 days. If that person isolates at home, that means everyone living in that home must also self-isolate for the same 10 days.
The close contacts must self-isolate for a further 14 days following. The province’s website said this is done to ensure the virus was not transmitted in the final days of the case’s isolation, for a total of 24 days of self-isolation.
Epidemiologist Cynthia Carr said Friday the extended isolation is an important measure to do first.
"Before, again, going back to those societal, broad restrictions that are a significant impact on our social and economic and our mental health well-being as well," she said
Manitoba's current health restrictions are in place for at least another two weeks.
Atwal said if variant community spread happens that could change, but wouldn't speculate further.
"Let's focus on today,” he said. “Let's focus on what Manitoba has to do today, for the next week, for the next month, and take those steps."
COVID CASES IN MANITOBA
The province also announced 92 new cases of COVID-19 and two deaths linked to the virus on Friday.
The deaths include a man in his 80s from Winnipeg, and a woman in her 90s whose death is linked to the outbreak at the Golden Links Lodge in Winnipeg.
This brings the total number of deaths related to COVID-19 in Manitoba to 879. Atwal said one death – a man in his 70s from the Interlake–Eastern region which was announced in December – was removed from the total as further investigation revealed it was not linked to COVID-19.
The new cases reported on Friday include:
- two cases in Interlake–Eastern health region;
- 50 cases in the Northern health region;
- three cases in the Prairie Mountain Health region;
- two cases in the Southern Health–Santé Sud health region; and
- 35 cases in the Winnipeg health region.
The provincial five-day test positivity rate dropped to 5.7 per cent on Friday, along with the test positivity rate in Winnipeg, which dropped to 4.2 per cent.
The total number of cases Manitoba has seen so far in the pandemic is now at 31,235. However, two cases were removed from the total due to a data correction.