Manitoba's top doctor says Easter gatherings may lead to third wave

It will be at least another two weeks before the province begins to see the fallout of any Easter gatherings among COVID-19 case numbers – and with the variant at play, Manitoba's top doctor says this could mean the beginning of a third wave.

Dr. Brent Roussin, the chief provincial public health officer, said it will take about four weeks – or two incubation cycles of the virus – before public health officials fully understand the impact spring break and Easter gatherings have caused.

"The concern is if we had a lot of gathering, especially indoors, especially with multiple households involved, it is very likely we are going to see increased transmission," Roussin said. "Because we have seen the variant cases here, if the transmission includes that variant then this could be where we see our third wave begin."

The province reported five more cases of the B.1.1.7. variant of concern in Manitoba on Tuesday.

READ MORE: Five more COVID-19 variant cases found in Winnipeg on Tuesday

Public health orders which were in place over Easter limited gatherings within homes to two designated people or a designated household. Gatherings outdoors on private property are limited to 10 people, and outdoor gatherings on public property are limited to 25.

With the warmer weather, Roussin encouraged people to get outside and be active – though he said it is important they follow health orders and recommended Manitobans still wear a mask.

"Risk is lower outdoors, but it certainly isn't zero," Roussin said.

WARNING FOR SPRING BREAKERS RETURNING TO MANITOBA

Roussin said given the rising numbers of variant cases outside Manitoba, it is imperative people avoid non-essential travel both outside of Manitoba and to the northern areas of the province.

He said if people did travel over spring break, they must follow public health orders for testing and self-isolation.

Current health orders require anyone entering Manitoba from other provinces or territories to self-isolate for 14 days. Roussin said people should get tested immediately when they arrive, then again after seven and 10 days.