18 new cases of highly contagious B117 coronavirus variant found in Manitoba

·2 min read
Manitoba has increasing numbers of more contagious COVID-19 variants. (CBC - image credit)
Manitoba has increasing numbers of more contagious COVID-19 variants. (CBC - image credit)

There are 50 new cases of COVID-19 in Manitoba and vaccine appointments are now open to anyone 77 and older, and First Nations people 57 and older.

No deaths were announced, leaving the death toll due to COVID-19 at 917 in Manitoba.

Another 18 cases of the more contagious B117 variant originally detected in the U.K. have been identified, said Dr. Brent Roussin, chief public health officer for Manitoba. One is in the Interlake and 17 are in Winnipeg.

The test positivity rate is creeping up again at 4.8 per cent in Manitoba, and it's 3.5 per cent in Winnipeg.

"We're really in that race to get Manitobans vaccinated, but it's really going to impair our ability to vaccinate Manitobans if we start to see high test positivity rates again," Roussin said.

There have been 41 total cases of variants of concern found so far in Manitoba; 19 are active cases.

There are eight linked to travel, but nine can't be linked to travel or other cases, Roussin said.

"We need to be quite cautious moving forward, especially with our reopening plans," he said.

"We are at risk of seeing that increased transmission."

In other areas where variants have gotten a foothold, cases have jumped quickly, Roussin said, urging Manitobans to stick to the fundamentals.

More than 100,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been given out in Manitoba so far. Roussin said the more people who are vaccinated, the fewer will suffer severe consequences due to the virus or end up in hospital.

Roussin also is scheduled to get his first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine on Friday.

More to come

Read the previous story below:

Manitoba's chief public health officer will provide a COVID-19 update on Monday, a day after the province said people might have been exposed to a variant of concern on a Winnipeg Transit bus.

Dr. Brent Roussin will hold a news conference at 12:30 p.m.

CBC Manitoba will live stream the conference here and on Facebook, Twitter and CBC Gem.

The province reported five additional COVID-related deaths and 138 new cases on the weekend.

It also reported the possible exposure to a variant of concern on a bus on Route 16, on March 4 and 5 between 11:09 a.m. and noon.

The infected person rode from Osborne Street and River Avenue to Manitoba Avenue and Ellington Street.

No additional cases of variants of concern were confirmed on Saturday or Sunday.