Covid-19 Briefing
Free Press
A roundup of COVID-19 developments for Tuesday Feb. 1, 2022
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A roundup of COVID-19 developments for Tuesday Feb. 1, 2022

Today’s commute was what you would expect in the middle of a blizzard to mark the first day of February.

Even though my white-knuckle drive came a day before Groundhog Day, I had the same sense of being stuck on repeat that Bill Murray’s character faced in the 1993 blockbuster film.

It snows. We finally get the roads cleared. And then it snows all over again.

Perhaps I wouldn’t have minded this latest winter storm as much if we weren’t also trapped in the COVID time loop. You know, the one where things are bad, then appear to be getting better only to turn bad yet again. Rinse and repeat.

And perhaps I wouldn’t have minded so much if I hadn’t also received an email from a reader accusing me of inaccurate reporting in last night’s briefing, which touched on vaccine efficacy. 

“Don’t you want to be known for being truthful?” Bonnie asked in her note to me. “While you are lying to your readers currently, one day they will actually all see the data from the actual sources. How will you be able to save face to your own kids and family then? Unless… you have a corrupt agenda.”

To back up her point, Bonnie attached the following graphic from the province’s pandemic dashboard, which she said proved the vaccinated are the most vulnerable based on the data for hospitalizations and deaths.

At first glance, Bonnie would appear to be correct, based on the data the province is serving up to the public.

However, if Bonnie had read just a little further, she would have also seen the following from the province that makes clear the real risks facing those who are not fully vaccinated. 

At one level, I really shouldn’t blame Bonnie for the conclusions she has drawn, but I certainly can point the finger at the province for continuing to break down COVID cases by vaccination status without the proper context.

And the proper context missing is that the actual number of Manitobans who are fully vaccinated — a figure now in excess of one million — clearly dwarfs that of the number of vaccinated who suffered breakthrough infections.

The province actually has a graph that proves that point as you can see here:

Alas, that more telling graphic doesn’t have the prominence it needs on the dashboard, despite ongoing efforts on the part of our columnist Tom Brodbeck to have the province address this shortcoming

So is it any wonder that Bonnie is skeptical about vaccines? Or that Tory MLA Josh Guenter sees more value in showing up at a trucker rally to rail about vaccine mandates, a move that led to him being sacked as the legislative assistant for Health Minister Audrey Gordon after only a few weeks on the job?  Or that more and more people will see no reason to contradict Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe when he says vaccines aren’t stopping COVID’s spread?

At some point, the city will clear the roads after this latest snow storm, but when will the province finally clear the confusion it is spreading about the efficacy of vaccines?

The province can’t say the vaccine is the path out of the pandemic while showing graphics that leave the false impression those who got the jab are being hospitalized or dying at a higher rate than the unvaccinated. 

While Groundhog Day was a comedy, being stuck in this conflicting data time loop is a tragedy. 

Paul Samyn, Editor


Note: The number of daily and active cases in the charts below are based on the number of positive PCR tests reported by Manitoba Health. Unless they meet certain requirements, most Manitobans are now being directed to do rapid antigen testing rather than PCR tests, and rapid test results are not included in these numbers. As a result, the active and daily case numbers below are estimated to be much lower than actual cases in the community.


Chart showing daily status cumulative counts of positive COVID-19 cases


Chart showing daily status cumulative counts of positive COVID-19 cases


Chart showing daily hospitalizations and ICU admissions for COVID-19 cases

Graphic showing first and second vaccine doses administered in Manitoba

Graphic showing percentage of total population in each province that is fully vaccinated


Chart showing number of new cases, per capita, in each province in the last 14 days

Chart showing new cases per day in Canada


Chart showing total number of Canadian cases over time


To see a larger selection of charts showing the state of COVID-19 provincially and nationally, visit COVID-19 by the numbers 


• Manitoba announced seven more COVID-19 deaths and two additional hospitalizations on Tuesday. According to the government’s pandemic dashboard, 737 people with COVID-19 were in hospital, including 54 in intensive care. There were 491 new cases confirmed through PCR testing as of Tuesday morning. The test positivity rate province-wide is 30.1 per cent. The province is no longer tracking the majority of positive COVID-19 cases because PCR testing is limited and Manitobans using rapid tests are not able to report their results. 

For the latest information on current public health orders, restrictions and other guidance, visit the provincial government's website

First- and second-dose vaccinations are available for all Manitobans over five years of age. Third-dose shots are available to all Manitoba adults. Check eligibility criteria and recommended time frames between doses at Appointments can be booked online at or by calling 1-844-626-8222.

Manitobans who have received all required doses of a vaccine at least 14 days ago can request an immunization card to prove complete vaccination. To request a digital or physical card, visit the provincial government's website.  


• Quebec Premier François Legault is abandoning his threat to tax the unvaccinated because he is worried about how much the idea has divided Quebecers. Finance Minister Eric Girard had prepared a bill to tax Quebecers who refused to get vaccinated against COVID-19 without a medical reason, Legault said, but the legislation will not be tabled. Legault said his role is to ensure a climate of “social peace and a certain social cohesion” in the province. He had announced on Jan. 11 that Quebec would break new ground by making the unvaccinated pay a significant financial penalty because they were overrepresented in the health-care system. About 10 per cent of the province’s eligible population is unvaccinated.

• Thailand expects to welcome hundreds of thousands of holidaymakers a month with the kickoff of a quarantine-free visa program that’s set to serve as a model for tourism-reliant countries balancing safe border reopenings with economic revival. Visitors of any nationality can now apply for quarantine-free entry into Thailand, provided they are fully vaccinated. The government expects between 200,000 and 300,000 travellers to take advantage of the so-called Test & Go program in February alone, with the numbers expected to swell in the following months.

• Denmark on Tuesday became one of the first European Union countries to scrap most pandemic restrictions as the Scandinavian country no longer considers the COVID-19 outbreak “a socially critical disease.” The reason is that while the Omicron variant is surging in Denmark, it’s not placing a heavy burden on the health system and the country has a high vaccination rate, officials have said. More than 60 per cent of Denmark’s population over the age of 12 have gotten a third COVID-19 shot, according to official figures.


“We are concerned that a narrative has taken hold in some countries that because of vaccines — and because of Omicron’s high transmissibility and lower severity — preventing transmission is no longer possible and no longer necessary. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s premature for any country either to surrender or to declare victory. This virus is dangerous and it continues to evolve before our very eyes.”

— WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus


Campuses re-evaluate classroom-return plans

Students, administrators express frustration over another semester of uncertainty Read More


Police called to MLA office as convoy-related aggression ramps up

Misinformation that stokes anger and politicians who rile people up over public health restrictions can be a volatile mix, says a Winnipeg MLA whose office was recently targeted. Read More


Virus depletes mail-carrier ranks

OTTAWA — As many as one-quarter of Canada Post letter carriers in Winnipeg are isolating due to COVID-19, as city residents complain about delayed mail. Read More


Supply chain issues hammer city construction projects

Public washroom, sewage upgrades, library repairs all face delays Read More


Finger-pointing over costly rural COVID tests

OTTAWA — The federal government has refused to divulge how much it pays Dynacare, a private lab, to have couriers drive for hours to locations in rural Manitoba to collect COVID-19 test swabs. Read More


Crossing finish line likely not part of learning to live with COVID

We have to learn to live with COVID-19. Read More


Public can handle ‘highly technical’ data

Not everyone in Manitoba is regularly tested for COVID-19. But all of us use toilets. Read More


Nazi analogies all too common

In his 1953 book Natural Rights and History, the German philosopher Leo Strauss coined the Latin term reductio ad Hitlerum, or “reduction to Hitler.” This concept, as he wrote, was that a “view is not refuted by the fact that it happens to have been shared by Adolf Hitler.” Read More

Relaxed rules bring relief

NHL’s updated COVID protocols eliminate daily testing Read More


Something missing from Scotties

Absence of fans strikes at heart of tourney Read More



Canada offering help as COVAX vaccine alliance pleads for more cash

OTTAWA - Canada is considering sending more money or ancillary vaccine supplies to the COVAX global vaccine sharing alliance after a plea from the organizers that it was running out of cash. Read More


Anti-vaccine mandate protest racks up costs to Ottawa residents, police, businesses

Ottawa residents are starting to wonder who will be left holding the bag when the anti-vaccine mandate protest that has seized the capital, shuttered businesses and racked up policing costs finally rolls out. Read More


Protesters at Coutts border blockade not dealing with Mounties in good faith, Kenney says

A blockade of some 100 trucks has been in place on the north side of the crossing between Alberta and Montana. Read More


Most B.C. COVID patients testing positive after hospitalization for other reasons

VANCOUVER - COVID-19 hospitalizations in British Columbia are at their highest level and over 60 per cent of patients since December have tested positive for the virus after being admitted for other reasons, the provincial health officer says. Read More


Ontario's science advisers say easing restrictions will increase COVID-19 cases

TORONTO - COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and ICU admissions will likely increase again following this week's reopening, Ontario's expert science advisers said Tuesday in new modelling that shows "prolonged" pressure on the health system. Read More


One Ontario hospital opposed vaccine mandate, letters to premier reveal

Just one Ontario hospital out of dozens that wrote to Doug Ford over a possible COVID-19 vaccine mandate was opposed to the idea before the premier decided against implementing it for the sector. Read More


As many as 4M Ontarians caught COVID-19 in the Omicron wave, science table estimates

Speeding the pace of vaccinations and boosters will help keep hospitalizations down, the science table says. Read More


Move on, Doug Ford tells anti-vaxxers protesting in Ottawa

Hit the road. That’s the message from the premier to anti-vaxxers whose protest has shut down streets and businesses around Parliament Hill. Read More


'I'm just exhausted': Inside a Toronto hospital during the Omicron wave of COVID-19

TORONTO - Paula Abramcyzk sighs at the unknown her day will bring. Odds are, in the heart of the Omicron wave, someone will die in the intensive care unit at Humber River Hospital in Toronto. Read More


Quebec backtracks on taxing unvaccinated to maintain 'social peace'

MONTREAL - Three weeks after threatening to tax unvaccinated Quebecers, Premier François Legault abandoned the idea on Tuesday, worried about how much it had divided the province. Read More


New Brunswick reports five more COVID-19-related deaths, rise in hospitalizations

FREDERICTON - New Brunswick is reporting five more COVID-19-related deaths today and another increase in hospitalizations. Read More


P.E.I. officials report one COVID death, say news on easing restrictions by next week

CHARLOTTETOWN - Prince Edward Island's chief public health officer reported the province's 11th COVID-19-related death on Tuesday and offered hope that some public health restrictions would ease later this month. Read More


N.L. reports slight rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations, 179 new cases

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - Health officials in Newfoundland and Labrador are reporting a slight increase in hospitalizations due to COVID-19. Read More

Nova Scotia's recreational facilities struggle through most challenging COVID-19 wave

HALIFAX - Nova Scotia's recreational facilities will likely need more short-term government support once the latest wave of COVID-19 subsides, a legislature committee was told Tuesday. Read More



WHO: In 10 weeks, omicron surge causes COVID cases to soar

GENEVA (AP) — The World Health Organization chief said Tuesday that 90 million cases of coronavirus have been reported since the omicron variant was first identified 10 weeks ago — amounting to more than in all of 2020, the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read More


Too many masks: WHO cites glut of waste from COVID response

GENEVA (AP) — The World Health Organization says overuse of gloves, “moon suits” and the use of billions of masks and vaccination syringes to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus have spurred a huge glut of health care waste worldwide. Read More


Pfizer asks FDA to allow COVID-19 vaccine for kids under 5

WASHINGTON (AP) — Pfizer on Tuesday asked the U.S. to authorize extra-low doses of its COVID-19 vaccine for children under 5, potentially opening the way for the very youngest Americans to start receiving shots as early as March. Read More


Virus infections for Olympic athletes, coaches rising faster

BEIJING (AP) — Athletes and team officials are testing positive for COVID-19 at much higher rates than other people arriving in China for the Beijing Olympics, organizers said Tuesday. Read More


Denmark scraps most COVID-19 restrictions

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Denmark on Tuesday became one of the first European Union countries to scrap most pandemic restrictions as the Scandinavian country no longer considers the COVID-19 outbreak “a socially critical disease.” Read More


Virus enters Tonga along with disaster aid, lockdown planned

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Tonga will enter a lockdown Wednesday evening after finding coronavirus infections in two port workers helping distribute aid arriving in the Pacific nation after a volcanic eruption and tsunami. Read More


NMSU suspends concession sales to increase mask compliance

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico State University is suspending food and beverage sales during indoor spotting events because of what the university says is inconsistent compliance with the state's indoor mask mandate. Read More


By the numbers: COVID-19 tests, cases, vaccinations, hospitalizations and more

By the numbers: COVID-19 tests, cases, vaccinations, hospitalizations and more

Read More


What's open, what's closed: Government, entertainment, sports and more during the pandemic

What's open, what's closed in Winnipeg during the coronavirus pandemic

Read More


Full coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic


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