WINNIPEG — Manitoba reported another record for daily COVID-19 cases with 947 new infections, but the province’s chief medical officer of health cautioned the figure was skewed due to delays in testing.
Dr. Brent Roussin said Wednesday there was a backlog of about 10,700 tests that haven't yet been screened for COVID-19.
"The numbers we report are definitely an underestimate of the amount of transmission we're seeing right now," he said.
The previous record for new infections was set Tuesday with 825 positive cases.
Most of the newest cases emerged in the Winnipeg health region, which posted 667 new infections.
The province also reported the death of woman in her 50s from the southern region, which brings the total to 1,384 since the pandemic began.
There were 83 Manitobans in hospital with COVID-19, including 29 people who are in intensive care.
The surge in infection rates is due to the Omicron variant, Roussin said.
He said while there are early indications that suggest Omicron my be less severe than the Delta variant, it’s more contagious and Manitobans must remain vigilant.
"New Year's is coming and we need to do whatever we can to decrease the amount of contacts we have during these next number of weeks," Roussin said.
He also said health officials expect the Omicron variant will have an affect on the health-care system, noting other jurisdictions are seeing hospital admissions increase over time as case numbers climb.
"We need to be prepared for that, we need to reduce the amount of contacts we have quite significantly in order to protect the health-care system," Roussin said.
Opposition NDP Leader Wab Kinew said the government needs to bring in stronger public health measures "to counter the unprecedented COVID surge we're now experiencing in Manitoba."
"They also need to staff up testing sites, provide families with free rapid tests and make our schools safer for the winter term," Kinew said in an emailed statement Wednesday.
The province has tightened public health restrictions, particularly on large gatherings. Many large indoor venues such as gyms, movie theatres and large sporting venues are limited to half capacity.
Indoor and outdoor public gatherings must not exceed 50 per cent of the capacity or 250 people, whichever is fewer, even for those who are fully vaccinated. Liquor sales in restaurants and licensed premises must end at 10 p.m. every day.
-- By Daniela Germano in Edmonton
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 29, 2021.
The Canadian Press