There have only been 17 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 omicron variant in Manitoba as of Dec. 20 but provincial health officials say they believe it will cause a surge in the number of cases, which has been rising in recent days.
Manitoba public health said on Monday that there had been 809 new cases of COVID-19 in the province since the start of the weekend, with 276 positive tests on Saturday, 333 on Sunday and 200 on Monday. About 500 of these cases were in the Winnipeg health region and 136 were in the southern region, while there were 67 new cases in the north, including 28 on Monday alone.
The province is seeing a rising number of breakthrough cases, with only 75 of Monday’s new infections affecting people who have had less than two doses of COVID-19 vaccine. Because of this and because the vaccines are less effective against the omicron variant a few months after the second dose is received, Manitobans are being urged to get a third dose as soon as they are eligible, which is six months after their second dose for most people with a somewhat shorter interval for those over 60 and for adult residents of First Nations.
As of Dec. 17, 84.4 per cent of Manitobans aged five and older have received at lest one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, while 78.2 per cent have received two doses and 14.5 per cent have received three doses. Nearly 43 per cent of children aged five to 11 have now received one dose of the vaccine.
Also on the rise is the five-day test positivity rate in Manitoba, which went from 6.5 per cent Dec. 17 to eight per cent Dec. 20, though in Northern Manitoba it was at 10.7 per cent on Dec. 14 and ranged between 5.4 and 10.8 per cent over the first two weeks of December.
There are 137 Manitobans hospitalized due to COVID-19, including six northern residents. 27 Manitobans are in intensive care as a result of their infections, though no northerners were in ICU due to COVID on Monday.
Six more deaths resulting from the virus were reported over the weekend and Monday, making the total number of Manitobans who have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began 1,366.
More than half of all active COVID-19 infections in the province on Monday affected people who were fully vaccinated against the virus, but 64 per cent of those in hospital and about 90 per cent of those in intensive care had received fewer than two doses of vaccine.
The Island lake health district has the highest number of active COVID-19 cases in the north as of Dec. 20, with 136, while there are 116 in the Grand Rapids/Misipawisitik/Moose Lake/Mosakahiken/Easterville/Chemawawin health district.