COVID-19 Manitoba: Provincial government still calling on people to be safe amid COVID

An epidemiologist wants to see more wastewater data, and increased communication with communities from the province.

Winnipeggers on the street had mixed reactions when telling CTV News how they felt about the COVID-19 situation—with some people more cautious and others are being optimistic.

“I can’t trust who has had their vaccines or not,” Masoumeh Rezaie told CTV News, saying she is staying home and has been wearing a mask. “I can’t afford to get sick.”

Michael Xu said he is optimistic after seeing the low case counts being reported.

“Things are looking up,” Xu said. “I have had a couple of friends get COVID but it affects everybody in different ways.”

Manitoba Health Minister Audrey Gordon says the province is seeing a downward trend in cases.

“I don’t think we have misled Manitobans in that we have stated that the new cases are at times, underreported because individuals—like myself—who are triple vaccinated if they test positive their symptoms might be mild,” Gordon said in a Monday press conference.

As Manitobans use at home rapid antigen tests, those test results often do not get shared with the province.

The province says roughly 2.6 million rapid tests have been distributed to retail locations with more at places like libraries and pharmacies. It says it keeps a reserve of five million tests.

Epidemiologist Cynthia Carr wants to see more communication from the province and more wastewater data.

“We should invest—particularly in surveillance, particularly in ongoing communication to community members to reinforce that this virus is still circulating by the thousands,” Carr said.

Wastewater data from the Public Health Agency of Canada shows as of March 17, COVID-19 levels increased in Winnipeg south and Winnipeg west treatment plants, and decreased in the north.

Manitoba’s most recent COVID-19 release on Thursday shows intensive care rates are increasing—last week by 57.1 per cent. Hospitalizations were slightly up by 4.9 per cent.

“We need to focus on the important indicators now.”

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority said it is pausing personal care home status updates—but still update outbreaks.

It said there have been 51 deaths of care home residents with COVID-19 in outbreaks that started in 2022.

Carr says care homes act as a red flag for community transmission.

“The care homes are not living in a vacuum,” Carr said. “They don’t develop the virus in the care home.”

The executive director of the Manitoba Association of Residential and Community Care Homes for the Elderly Julie Turenne Maynard said it is continuing to see Omicron enter the facilities from visitors and staff.

Turenne-Maynard notes, however, residents need to be healthy physically, mentally, and spiritually.

“It is a balancing act that is taking place right now to try and keep them safe but also enable them to visit,” Turenne-Maynard said.

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