By Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — Manitoba continues to avoid the kind of fourth-wave surge in COVID-19 cases seen in most other provinces, although health officials say the numbers will likely rise in the coming weeks.
The province is reporting 36 new infections — the latest in a string of days with counts between 30 and 60.
Federal government statistics show Manitoba has recorded the lowest per-capita case rate, west of the Maritimes, over the last two weeks.
Dr. Jazz Atwal, deputy chief public health officer, says part of the reason is that Manitoba loosened its restrictions later than most other provinces.
He says that meant more people were vaccinated when public health orders were relaxed.
Atwal warns, however, that case counts are expected to increase as students return to class.
“What we’re anticipating, for sure, is some extra cases being generated — just because kids are going to be interacting,” Atwal said Tuesday. He also reported six deaths since Friday.
“They’re going to be part of, let’s say, cohorts. They’re going to have more interactions in school than they would have, let’s say, (when) they weren’t in school over the summer months.”
To try to keep case numbers down, Manitoba recently expanded its vaccination card program. The digital or printed proof of vaccination is now required to attend cinemas, pro sports events, concerts, restaurants and other gathering places.
“We have essentially limited (the) ability for unvaccinated people to intermingle in close settings indoors,” Atwal said.
The province is also trying a new tactic to convince more people to get vaccinated. It has started breaking down its daily tally of COVID-19 cases to show how many are unvaccinated.
On Tuesday, fully vaccinated people made up 29 per cent of active cases, nine per cent of active COVID-19 cases in hospital and zero per cent of COVID-19 patients in intensive care units.
“The power of the vaccine is there. We know that if you’re vaccinated … your risk of a severe outcome at any age is negligible,” Atwal said.