Northern Manitoba and the province as a whole recorded some of the lowest numbers of new COVID-19 cases in recent days Jan. 26 but the threat of a more deadlier variant now present in Canada has prompted the provincial government to bring back self-isolation requirements for people arriving in Manitoba from other provinces.
Ninety-four new cases of the virus were announced by the provincial government on Tuesday, including 36 in the Northern Regional Health Authority. The largest increases in the north were in the Bunibonibee/Oxford House/Manto Sipi/God’s River/God’s Lake and Island Lake health districts, which each had eight new cases of the virus, while there were six new cases in the Gillam/Fox Lake health district, five in the Grand Rapids/Misipawisitik/Easterville/Chemawawin/Moose Lake health district and two in the Lynn Lake/Marcel Colomb/South Indian Lake/Granville Lake/Leaf Rapids health district. The Thompson/Mystery Lake and Cross Lake/Pimicikamak health districts reported one new case each and there were also six new cases from unknown health districts.
During a media briefing, acting deputy chief provincial public health office Dr. Jazz Atwal said it’s important not to read too much into data from one day or just a few days, especially since testing volumes are usually lower on Mondays, but that numbers appear to be trending in the right direction.
“We still have a lot of risk in Manitoba,” Atwal said. “We have a lot of communities up north that are having and experiencing outbreaks. Those numbers are coming down a little bit as well so it seems like perhaps there’s some better case management and containment within those communities as well.”
Hospitalizations for the province as a whole were at 270, including 140 people with active COVID-19 infections and 130 who are past the infectious stage. Twenty-five people with active infections are in intensive care, as are seven who are no longer considered infectious. These numbers include 40 northerners in hospital due to the virus, three of whom are no longer considered infectious. Four of the northern residents are in intensive care.
Five more Manitobans have also died as a result of COVID-19, bringing the total number of virus-related deaths since the pandemic began to 809.
Premier Brian Pallister held a news conference at noon to announce that public health orders will be amended to require anyone arriving in Manitoba from anywhere in Canada to self-isolate for 14 days. This is in part due to the risk posed by a United Kingdom COVID-19 variant that has been detected in other provinces.
“There’s real reason for concern,” said Pallister, who is also asking the federal government to increase screening at international borders and for Canadian travellers returning from abroad. “We’re seeing the presence of these variants growing around the world. These variants are posing major concerns to governments all over the country.”
The U.K variant could be as much as 30 per cent to 70 per cent deadlier than standard COVID-19, according to different studies, the premier noted.
The new requirements for self-isolation, which include anyone entering the province without exemptions for those from Western Canada, the north or west of Terrace Bay, Ont. unlike previous versions, will be added to public health orders effective Jan. 29.