Manitoba taking measured reopening approach, officials still concerned about Delta variant

Manitobans will have more freedoms starting on Saturday as the province announced its first steps of reopening.

Manitoba hit the first vaccination target early, but health officials said they still have concerns from about COVID-19 specifically, the Delta variant.

"While the case numbers are improving and our health-care system is seeing some relief, this pandemic is certainly not over," said Dr. Brent Roussin, the chief provincial public health officer.

"The variants of concern, especially the Delta variant, is circulating and continues to be a concern."

As of Wednesday, there has been 164 cases of the Delta variant (B.1.617.2) in the province. Of these cases, 158 have recovered and four are considered active.

Two deaths have been linked to the Delta variant in Manitoba.

Roussin said the main push right now is to get Manitobans fully vaccinated with both doses, as that will help fight back against the Delta variant.

"We're not focused just on what percentage of Manitobans get the first dose, it's that second dose and you can see that's dramatically climbing," Roussin said.

He said the second dose uptake will continue to climb this week.

He added that Manitobans deserve to have loosened restrictions but noted this is still a measured approach.

Manitoba has had 14,749 variant of concern cases and there are currently 1,050 active cases.

There have been 7,880 unspecified variants, 6,413 cases of the Alpha variant (B.1.1.7.), 201 cases of the P.1 variant, 67 cases of the B.1.351 variant, 15 cases of the B.1.617.1 variant, and nine cases of the B.1.617. variant.

Manitoba has had 140 deaths linked to variants of concern.

Roussin said people need to continue to practise the fundamentals, noting this is the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and any of the variants.