Daily COVID-19 case numbers in Manitoba are expected to continue to decline, but the modeling unveiled by the province on Friday suggests that hospital admissions related to the disease will continue to increase.
Dr. Jazz Atwal, the deputy chief health officer for Manitoba Province, says the projections show that while case numbers are no longer in the extreme, hospital admissions remain in the medium range and ICU admission is close to the severe range.
The modeling takes into account the effect of the B.1.1.7 variant, which was first observed in the UK, also known as the Alpha variant, but it does not take into account the P.1 variant associated with Brazil or that associated with the B.1.617 strain. 2 linked to India – also known as the Gamma and Delta variants.
There is evidence that the Delta variant in particular may be more transmissible and have more serious effects than other variants, Atwal said. Because of this, Manitoba’s reopening plan and the relaxed public health regulations announced this week are cautious, he said.
Atwal urged people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to protect themselves from the severe effects of the disease. He said by the first week of June, about 80 percent of Manitobans hospitalized with the disease had no immunity to any vaccinations. 73 percent were not vaccinated at all, and seven percent became infected less than two weeks after their first dose.
Only about 2.6 percent of hospitalizations during that period had received both doses, although no two had reached two weeks after their second injection, he said. Nobody who was fully vaccinated entered the intensive care unit.
“We don’t share this information to blame people, but to show the importance and power of vaccination,” Atwal said.
“Those numbers should really highlight the power of the vaccine.”
He said people were not vaccinated for a number of reasons, including hesitation and lack of access to vaccines.
Atwal also announced 223 new cases and two more deaths related to the disease at a press conference.
Most of the new cases are in the health region of Winnipeg, where 126 new infections have been reported, the province said in a press release.
The rest is spread across the Southern Health Region (which 36 announced), the Northern Health Region (27), the Interlake-Eastern Health Region (20) and the Prairie Mountain Health Region (14).
The deaths announced on Friday are of two women from the Winnipeg health region, the statement said. One was in her 80s and the other in her 90s. The latter had contracted the more contagious alpha variant.
The five-day test positive rate in Manitoba dropped to 10.6 percent from 11.1 on Thursday. Winnipeg fell from 11.6 to 11 percent.
There’s more to come
Read the previous story below:
The Manitoba Provincial Deputy Chief Public Health Officer will announce the latest details on COVID-19 in the province at a news conference on Friday.
CBC News will do the update with Dr. Stream Jazz Atwal live here and on Facebook, Twitter and Gem at 12:30 p.m.
Atwal’s announcement comes hours before Manitoba’s latest public health ordinance goes into effect on Saturday.
These rules allow for outdoor gatherings of up to five people – but if the gathering is on private property, no more than three households (including the host) can be involved.
All other restrictions remain in place, which means that private indoor gatherings are still not allowed.
The last restrictions apply until June 26th.
Dr. Brent Roussin, the chief health officer for the province of Manitoba, says these changes are minimal as the province’s hospitals are still congested. On Thursday, 30 Manitobans outside the province were still receiving intensive care as the province works to free up space in their overburdened intensive care units.
Even so, the province has seen a slight decrease in daily case numbers recently. And while hospitals are still under pressure, the slow decline in cases offers “some light at the end of the tunnel” for the health system, Lanette Siragusa, Manitoba’s joint health director, said this week.
On Thursday, Manitoba revealed a first look at its reopening plan, which will largely depend on vaccination rates. This strategy has three holiday-related goals, the first being Canada Day.
By then, if more than 70 percent of Manitobans 12 and older have received their first dose of vaccine (and more than 25 percent their second), the province plans to relax some capacity limits, officials said.
However, some infectious disease experts say the plan lacks important details – especially given the recent surge in cases of a more contagious variant of coronavirus against which vaccines appear to be less effective.
The province also announced a lottery earlier this week as an incentive for people to get vaccinated. Adults vaccinated against COVID-19 will compete to win $ 100,000, while 12-17 year olds can receive a $ 25,000 scholarship if they get vaccinated.