Manitoba public health decisions aren’t being influenced by protesters calling for an end to pandemic restrictions, the acting deputy chief public health officer said a day after the province slightly loosened its health orders.
New orders that came into effect Tuesday allow bigger private gatherings and higher capacity in public spaces for people who are fully vaccinated.
Dr. Jazz Atwal, Manitoba’s deputy chief public health officer, said those orders will stay in place for two weeks.
“We’re going to look at the situation. We’re going to look at our data. We’re not going to speculate on our orders; they were just changed yesterday,” Atwal said in virtual news conference on Wednesday.
“Public health wants zero restrictions on anyone. We do this because we have to do it to protect our health care system at the present time.”
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There are 12 more COVID-19-related deaths and three more people with the coronavirus in hospital in Manitoba on Wednesday, the province said in a news release.
There are now 680 people in Manitoba hospitals with the virus. That includes 43 people with COVID-19 in intensive care units, up three from Tuesday.
As of Wednesday, there are 102 patients in Manitoba intensive care units, including both COVID and non-COVID patients, up one from the day before.
The latest deaths bring the total for the pandemic to 1,613.
The majority of the deaths reported on Wednesday are in the Winnipeg health region: a man in his 60s, two women in their 70s, two men in their 70s, two men in their 80s, a man in his 60s linked to the outbreak at Grace Hospital Unit 3 South, a man in his 80s linked to the outbreak at Golden Door Geriatric Centre, a man in his 80s linked to the outbreak at Meadowood Manor personal care home and a woman in her 90s linked to the outbreak at Holy Family Home.
A woman in her 80s from the Southern Health region also died.
More details are being provided about two deaths that were reported on the provincial dashboard Tuesday. They were a woman in her 50s from the Winnipeg health region, and a man in his 70s from the Winnipeg health region linked to the outbreak at Concordia Hospital Unit N3.
The province also corrected data reported on Monday. A man in his 60s from Winnipeg was wrongly linked to an outbreak at St. Amant, when it’s in fact linked to an outbreak at Health Sciences Centre Unit GA5.
The province reported 472 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, although health officials have repeatedly said those numbers are a significant undercount of the total number of active cases. Manitoba is strictly restricting access to PCR tests at provincial sites and does not track rapid test results.
Of the reported new cases, 177 are in the Winnipeg health region, 94 are in the Northern Health Region, 75 are in the Prairie Mountain Health region, 70 are in the Interlake-Eastern health region and 56 are in the Southern Health region.
The province’s five-day test positivity rate is down to 24.8 per cent, from 27.3 per cent the day before.
On Tuesday, 1,801 PCR tests were done. The province doesn’t track the results of rapid tests handed out at provincial test centres.
Alberta, Sask. lift some restrictions
As Manitoba’s public health orders are slightly loosening, other provinces have announced sweeping changes.
Saskatchewan announced Tuesday that it will end its vaccine passport policy next week and won’t renew its mandatory mask order after the end of the month.
Alberta followed suit later in day by ending its version of the vaccine passport and lifting capacity limits in smaller venues.
Atwal says it’s not the time for Manitoba to make those changes, and the province won’t do so just because other jurisdictions are.
WATCH | Manitoba not ready to lift restrictions:
A Regina-based infectious diseases physician says provinces should rely on following the data when making decisions on lifting restrictions.
But Dr. Alexander Wong says a “slow and deliberate” approach is needed.
“Maintaining things and just kind of going from week to week is the right way to do things, as opposed to just saying, ‘You know what, it’s all done now,'” he told CBC News.
The province declared a COVID-19 outbreak at the Deloraine Health Centre.
Meanwhile, a number of outbreaks are now over at facilities in Winnipeg: Concordia Place, Lions Manor personal care home, Luther Home, St. Norbert Personal Care Home and Misericordia Place.
The outbreaks at Brandon Regional Health Centre’s surgery unit and the Crocus Court Personal Care Home in Roblin are also over.
The province also provided an update on its public health enforcement on Wednesday.
During the week of Jan. 31 to Feb. 6, 12 warnings and 22 tickets were issued.
The majority (17) were $298 tickets for failing to wear a mask in an indoor public place, while three people were fined $1,296. Two businesses were fined $5,000.
WATCH | Full news conference on COVID-19 | Feb. 9, 2022: