WINNIPEG — Manitoba's chief public health officer asked people Monday to follow public health orders as he warned that hospitals could soon be under more pressure from COVID-19.
"We are in a trajectory right now that could take us to a place where we'll see quite a significant amount of strain on our health-care system unless we change it," Dr. Brent Roussin said.
Manitoba has not faced the same case surge that has occurred in Saskatchewan and Alberta during the pandemic's fourth wave, but the trend has begun to swing upward.
Health officials reported there were 241 cases over the weekend and 83 on Monday. There were also two deaths, both in the southern health region where vaccination rates are low and case counts are high.
"The most significant transmission right now is occurring in the southern health region, which is also significantly contributing to our (intensive care unit) admissions," Roussin said.
New measures, announced on Friday and set to take effect Tuesday, are targeted at unvaccinated people and partially at the southern health region, which has roughly 15 per cent of Manitoba's population but accounts for about 70 per cent of active COVID-19 cases in ICUs.
Across the province, gatherings in private homes, public areas, funerals and weddings will have a lower cap on attendance if unvaccinated people are attending. Other venues, including museums, restaurants and concert halls, are already required to only admit people with proof of vaccination.
For the southern health region only, retail businesses will have to cut their normal capacity in half.
Vaccination rates are close to 50 per cent in some southern communities and as low as 24 per cent in one rural areas.
The retail cap has upset the mayor of Niverville, a town in the southern health region which has an 82 per cent vaccination rate.
"Why punish our business sector when we have done our part to protect other Manitobans," Niverville Mayor Myron Dyck posted on social media.
Dyck said he has tried to contact Roussin to push for an exemption for his town, but has not heard back.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 4, 2020
Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press