Delta infection modelling in works as next reopening goal nears Manitoba posts two-day total of 145 new COVID-19 cases, seven more deaths
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This article was published 02/07/2021 (521 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A COVID-19 pandemic forecast that takes into account the more infectious delta variant of concern is still in development, as Manitoba quickly approaches its next reopening target.
Deputy chief provincial public health officer Dr. Jazz Atwal said the number of cases caused by delta, which is more transmissible than earlier mutations, is increasing across all local health regions.
However, his office has yet to complete a model that projects the impact of the variant should it get a foothold in Manitoba, while also taking into consideration vaccination rates and the reduction of restrictions under the province’s “One Great Summer Reopening Path” plan.
“The modelling with the delta variant built into it is still being produced,” Atwal said during a noon-hour news conference Friday. “It does take time to generate these mathematical models.”
Atwal said public health will base its decision to move forward with reopening on available information; an updated pandemic model including the delta variant is not a requirement.
The next reopening phase can begin when 75 per cent of the eligible population is partially immunized and 50 per cent is fully vaccinated, government officials have said. The target date was first set for Aug. 2.
Yet, the Phase 2 vaccination target will likely be reached in the coming week, if immunization rates hold.
As of Friday, 74.2 per cent of eligible Manitobans had received one dose and 46 per cent were fully vaccinated. Under Phase 2, the plan calls for a broad reopening, with 50 per cent capacity restrictions on businesses, services, and facilities, and increased gathering sizes.
“We’re going to hit those targets, it looks like, in a shorter period of time than anticipated,” Atwal acknowledged. “Again, we’re not going to jump to anything. We need these orders in place for about two weeks to see our case numbers, to see more vaccine effectiveness information for Manitoba.
“Hopefully, a model is done by then as well,” he said. “We’re going to take a look at all the information we have and come to decisions that are best for Manitoba and best for Manitobans.”
Since late April, 217 COVID-19 infections have been caused by the delta variant (B.1617.2), though that number may be under-reported due to delays in identifying the mutation; another 22 cases were added Friday.
The majority of cases were in Winnipeg but a disproportionate number have been identified in the Southern Health region, where immunization rates are below average.
About 8,000 COVID-19 samples, or about 52 per cent of all variant of concern cases in Manitoba, were listed as “unspecified,” as of Friday.
Most Canadian health jurisdictions have yet to develop a reliable process that can easily determine whether a COVID-19 sample is the delta variant of concern; all known cases in Manitoba have been confirmed through genetic sequencing, a process which can take up to 10 days.
“What’s remaining, the vast majority then were being sequenced,” Atwal said. “From those results, we were getting the numbers of delta variants we have right now in the province. That gives us a very accurate picture of what’s happening with the delta variant in Manitoba.”
Atwal said Cadham Provincial Laboratory and local lab partners should have a screen for the delta and Kappa (B.1617.1) variants ready by Tuesday. Other variants of concern, including the dominant Alpha (B.1.1.7) mutation, can already be spotted through the screening process, which takes 48 to 72 hours to generate a result.
“Starting next week, we’ll have a better real time sense on those numbers,” he said.
On Friday, the Manitoba government announced seven more people had died due to the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
The deaths included four people from Winnipeg: a woman in her 40s, a woman in her 50s (Alpha variant), a man in his 60s (Alpha), and a woman in her 70s (unspecified variant of concern).
Three people from Southern Health have also died: a woman and man, both in their 60s (alpha), and a man in his 70s.
Health officials said the death of a man in his 30s from Interlake Eastern reported June 30 has been removed from the totals due to data correction.
A two-day total of 145 new infections was reported: 91 on Thursday and 54 on Friday. Of Friday’s cases, 23 were in Winnipeg, 11 in Southern Health, nine in Interlake Eastern, six in Prairie Mountain, and five in Northern Health.
There were 163 Manitobans receiving hospital care for COVID-19, as of Thursday morning, including 49 in intensive care, six of whom were being treated in Ontario hospitals.
The five-day test positivity rate was 5.4 per cent provincially and 4.8 per cent in Winnipeg.
Atwal said case counts decreased by 20 per cent over last week, though a jump in cases remains a possibility as gatherings increase.
“People should be concerned. Even if you are fully immunized, there is that risk of getting that infection,” Atwal said. “Try to limit those interactions with others. If you’re sick, you should still get tested, stay at home until that test result comes back, and your household should still stay at home until that test result comes back.”
Outbreaks at Carman Memorial Hospital and Eastview Place Personal Care Home (Altona) have concluded.
The province declared an outbreak at St. Boniface Hospital’s unit M3.
Danielle Da Silva
Danielle Da Silva is a general assignment reporter.