Further reductions in public health restrictions are on deck for Manitoba, including in regions where COVID-19 vaccine uptake is far below the provincial average.

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Further reductions in public health restrictions are on deck for Manitoba, including in regions where COVID-19 vaccine uptake is far below the provincial average.

Chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin said Monday the recent COVID-19 trend has proven to be favourable, as his office considers moving to the next step of Manitoba’s reopening plan later this week.

Over the past seven days, Manitoba has reported an average of 64 new infections per day and the provincial test positivity rate has hovered around five per cent.

As of Monday, 76.3 per cent of eligible Manitobans have had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 57.2 per cent have had two doses.

"Given those numbers, given the trend and then add to that the vaccine rate, the protection, then yes, then I do think we’re in a position to move forward with our reopening plans," Roussin said Monday.

"I do think that we’re going to be able to do that provincewide, but again that strong evidence is shown here, and we’re going to keep showing it to Manitobans, that vaccines are highly effective, especially at keeping people out of hospital."

Under the province’s summer reopening plan, restrictions can be eased to allow up to 50 per cent capacity in businesses and facilities, increased gathering sizes, and a reduction in sector-specific restrictions — when 50 per cent of the eligible population is fully immunized and 75 per cent is partially vaccinated.

In the Winnipeg health region, approximately 79 per cent of residents have received at least their first dose of vaccine. However, in Southern Health, that rate is just 57.8 per cent.

Roussin said the province will share further details on the reopening plan later this week: "Manitobans’ work has put us in a position to move forward early again with our loosening plans."

On Monday, 31 new cases of COVID-19 and one pandemic death were reported in Manitoba.

Twenty cases were in Winnipeg, two in Southern Health, four in Interlake-Eastern, two in Prairie Mountain, and three in Northern Health.

There were 1,025 active cases, with 135 people in hospital, 30 of them in intensive care.

As of Monday morning, a total of 107 patients were being treated in ICUs for various conditions; three of those patients were receiving COVID-19 care in Ontario.

The five-day test positivity rate was five per cent in Manitoba, and 4.1 per cent in Winnipeg.

The death announced Monday involved a man in his 70s from Interlake-Eastern, linked to the B.1.1.7 (Alpha) variant of concern.

Roussin reiterated the importance of being immunized against COVID-19, and shared updated hospitalization data related to the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Last month, out of the 412 people hospitalized with COVID-19, 74 per cent were not immunized, Roussin said. Twenty-two per cent had a single dose of the vaccine but were infected within the two-week period it takes for immunization to have an effect.

He added the number of hospitalizations in June was 45 per cent lower than in May.

"We have everything we need to substantially reduce hospital admissions and ICU admissions," Roussin said, urging Manitobans to be immunized as soon as possible with two doses.

Also Monday, public health officials confirmed the province is now screening for the more infectious Delta variant of concern, and will be able to identify new cases within a 72-hour period. Updated numbers for variants of concern were not available.

As of July 10, the best available data from the province, there were 370 cases of Delta in Manitoba, and 21 were active.

The Alpha variant of concern continues to be the dominant strain in Manitoba, though more than 8,200, or 51.7 per cent, of the COVID-19 samples in Manitoba identified as a variant of concern remain unspecified.

Roussin said the province is working toward screening those samples retroactively for Delta.

All variant cases not identified as Alpha through screening are being sent for genetic sequencing, the province confirmed.

danielle.dasilva@freepress.mb.ca

Danielle Da Silva

Danielle Da Silva
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Danielle Da Silva is a general assignment reporter.

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