A week before Christmas Eve, Manitoba reported 239 new cases of COVID-19 on Dec. 17.
Combined with 218 new cases the previous day, the province had a total of 457 new infections in the course of just two days.
16 of the new cases announced on Friday were in Northern Manitoba, which has more than 350 active cases of the virus and also had its 66th death from COVID-19 reported on Thursday. The person who died was a woman in her 50s, the province says, and the government’s online dashboard indicates that she is from an unknown health district. Two other deaths of residents of other regions were announced on Friday, bringing the total number of Manitobans who have died since the pandemic started in March 2020 to 1,360.
The Grand Rapids/Misipawisitik/Moose Lake/Mosakahiken/Easteville/Chemawawin health district has the largest number of active cases in the north, with 131, while the Island Lake health district has 103.
139 Manitobans are hospitalized due to the coronavirus, 33 of them in intensive care. There are four northern residents in hospital due to their infections, none of them in intensive care.
The five-day test positivity rate in the province was 6.5 per cent Dec. 17. In the north, it was 10.7 per cent on Dec. 14, just below the highest it had been in the previous two-week period, when the rate ranged form a low of 5.4 per cent to a high of 10.8.
Two new infections involving omicron have been confirmed in Manitoba, the seventh and eighth confirmed vases of the variant.
Manitoba chief public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin gave a warning about the potential perils of omicron on Dec. 15, saying it is much more transmissible than the delta variant, which is currently the dominant strain in the province, though there are questions about how severe it could be and the effectiveness of vaccines to prevent it.
“This is bringing us to be quite concerned about the potential impact of omicron in Manitoba,” he said, noting that five of the six people who had confirmed cases of the new variant os of Wednesday had been asymptomatic when they tested positive. “It would have to be significantly less severe for this not to be a threat to us.”
Roussin said Manitobans should reconsider their holiday gathering and travel plans in the face of the new variant and make sure to get vaccinated if they haven’t already or receive a booster dose if they are eligible to. Unvaccinated people are over four times as likely to get infected with COVID-19 than those who are vaccinated, and 11 times more likely to end up in hospital and 18 times more likely to end up in intensive care.
Active COVID-19 infections in Manitoba are split equally between fully vaccinated people and those who have received one or no doses but 64 per cent of those in hospital with active infections are not fully vaccinated and 88 per cent of those in intensive care with active cases of COVID-19 have not received even one dose of vaccine.
84.2 per cent of eligible Manitobans over the age of five have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine so far, while 78.1 per cent have received two doses and 12.4 per cent have received three doses. About 40 per cent of Manitoba’s 125,000 children aged five to 11 have received their first dose of vaccine since it was approved by Health Canada.