‘We have been worried about a spike’: COVID-19 cases linked to holiday gatherings being reported in Manitoba

WINNIPEG — Manitoba health officials are starting to get an idea of the impact of gatherings over the holiday season on the province’s COVID-19 numbers.

During the daily update on Wednesday, Dr. Jazz Atwal, acting deputy provincial health officer, said the province doesn’t know the full impact of the holiday season, but have seen some numbers that are causing concern.

“Nearly 60 cases and more than 400 contacts have been linked to holiday gatherings,” Atwal said.

“We have been worried about a spike over the holidays, and those numbers will influence the decisions over what kind of changes can be made to the restrictions in the coming days.”

Manitoba’s current Code Red restrictions are set to expire on January 8. The restrictions prevent people from gathering with people outside of their households and has closed non-essential businesses across the province.

Atwal said discussions are ongoing regarding what new restrictions will look like, and said he would not speculate Wednesday on what potential changes would be brought in.

“When decisions are finalized, changes to the orders will be announced,” he said.

Premier Brian Pallister said in an earlier news conference on Wednesday that he doesn’t expect any “significant change” to the restrictions.

“I think Dr. (Brent) Roussin signalled very clearly that he feels it would be premature to move on lessening restrictions in advance of know what the case maturation might be as a consequence of the holiday season,” Pallister said.

Manitoba reported 10 new deaths and 176 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the total to 25,541 cases since March.

There have been 705 deaths linked to COVID-19 in Manitoba.

Atwal said with Ukrainian and Orthodox Christmas beginning this week, residents are reminded to continue following all public health orders and advice.

“Now is not the time to relax and let our guards down,” he said.

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