Manitoba chief public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin said Sept. 13 that the province will reduce self-isolation requirements for people who are close contacts of someone with COVID-19 from 14 days to 10 days in the coming weeks.
The change is being made because evidence is showing that there is a less than one per cent chance of someone who was asymptomatic through the first 10 days after an exposure developing an infection in the last four days of the incubation period.
“The risk of becoming a case is much greater in the early parts of that incubation period,” he said. “It’s all about the risk and evolving evidence in that regard.”
The province will also change rules to exempt people who are asymptomatic and either fully immunized or who have had COVID within the last six months from self-isolating if they are a contact of a case. Currently, the exemption only applies to those who are asymptomatic and either fully immunized or who had COVID in the last three months.
“We’re confident immunity from natural infection will provide that protection for up to six months” Roussin said.
Manitoba reported 171 new cases of COVID-19 over three days Sept. 11-13, including 41 new cases today, 58 on Sunday and 72 on Saturday. Two more deaths were also announced, making the total number of Manitobans who have died as a result of COVID-19 since the pandemic began 1,202.
Of the 41 new cases today, 30 were not vaccinated, nine were fully vaccinated and two were partially vaccinated.
Two of todays’s new cases were in the north, and one was a person who is not vaccinated.
There are 69 Manitobans in hospital due to the virus, 14 of them in intensive care. Seven of those in hospital and two of those in intensive care are northern residents.
The five-day provincial test positivity rate on Monday was 3.2 per cent.
Nearly 60 per cent of active cases as of Sept. 13 are in unvaccinated people. 72 per cent of those in hospital are not vaccinated and 86 per cent of those in intensive care have not been vaccinated. No fully vaccinated people are currently in intensive care.
Northern Manitoba has more than 100 active COVID cases after reporting nine new infections on Saturday and seven on Sunday, following 14 new cases in the region being announced Sept. 10.
51 of the north’s active cases are in the Island Lake health district and 29 are in The Pas/Opaskwayak/Kelsey health district. There are also nine active cases in the Cross Lake/Pimicikamak health district, seven in the Flin Flon/Snow Lake/Cranberry/Sherridon health district and three each in the Pukatawagan/Mathias Colomb and Thompson/Mystery Lake health districts.
Roussin said Manitoba is anticipating a worse respiratory system virus season than last year, when there were only seven influenza A cases and three influenza B cases recorded in the province and no deaths from the flu, likely due to a combination of pandemic-related measures such as self-isolating and mask-wearing and the fact that a record-high 31.5 per cent of Manitobans got the flu vaccine.
“Many of the things we’re doing for COVID protect us from [other respiratory system viruses] as well,” he said.
There are anecdotal reports of people not following public health guidelines, however,.
“Just a few days into the school season and we’ve herd many reports of children needing to be sent home because they were sent to school with symptoms,” Roussin said. “We’re going to see a lot of transmission if we continue to do that.”
Vaccine task force medical lead Dr. Joss Reimer said Monday that 73 per cent of Manitobans 12 to 17 years old have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine and 65 per cent have received both doses.