Wastewater monitoring shows potential peak of COVID-19 transmission in Winnipeg

On a blustery day bitter cold temperatures eased, providing some relief to Manitobans in search some fresh air and a walk to lunch.

Despite public health measures which allow indoor dining, Tanya Schulz is opting to stick with take out, for now.

“Because I don’t think anyone should expose themselves to COVID, and I think you can expose yourself wherever you are now,” Schulz said.

Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief public health officer said the province is in fact continuing to see a significant amount of spread of COVID-19.

But he said wastewater monitoring in Winnipeg conducted by the National Microbiology Lab, used to help determine the level of virus in the community shows the worst of this latest wave of infections may have already passed.

“There was a potential peak in early January, however, since then we haven’t seen any dramatic decline and we’re seeing quite variable levels since that time,” Roussin said in a Wednesday update.

Roussin stressed it is only one indicator and it is still too early to make any definitive conclusions.

He said what is most important is looking at the impact on the health care system, which is still strained.

The situation is leaving residents, businesses and organizations in limbo over what the next public health orders might look like with the current measures set to expire Feb.1.

Darrel Nadeau, executive director of Festival du Voyageur, said a hybrid in-person and virtual edition of the annual celebration of French culture has already been planned to take place under the current public orders when it kicks off in just over three weeks.

Most activities will take place outdoors or virtually with some in-person, indoor concerts held. But under the current measures it would mean a maximum of 250 people would be allowed to attend outside at Voyageur Park, which can usually accommodate 4,000 people.

“It’ll be very small so our preference would be for an increase to outdoor capacity and then obviously following all the public health orders otherwise in terms of masking, in terms of distancing, in terms of vaccination checks,” said Nadeau.

Roussin said an announcement will be made in the coming days but wouldn’t give any hints on what the orders will look like.