Public health officials have announced three additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 variants of concern in our province.
Dr Jazz Atwal, Deputy Chief Provincial Public Health Officer, says these three are all UK variants. The cases are all related to international travel and the individuals have since recovered. Each person has completed their self-isolation requirements.
Dr. Atwal says the number of contacts per case ranges from four to 24. Some of them were household contacts.
"Some of the contacts still have to finish off their self-isolation period and are being followed up by public health in relation to testing and self-isolation as well," explains Dr Atwal.
The doctor stresses that none of these cases is connected to First Nations communities. And there is no evidence of further spread in Manitoba related to this variant.
"This is not an unexpected development," he says. "We are anticipating variants-of-concern cases in Manitoba and we are prepared for this."
Atwal says this illustrates why our province has enacted tighter self-isolation requirements for travel. He urges Manitobans not to travel unless they absolutely must.
According to Atwal, the three individuals have no relation to each other and were travelling on separate flights.
Meanwhile, Atwal says the UK variant is a more communicable strain. He notes some studies say it is 50 per cent more communicable, while other studies suggest it is 70 per cent more than the normal COVID-19 strain.
"We haven't seen community transmission of a variant of concern," he says. "Our cases have been related to travel."
This brings the total number of variants of concern cases in Manitoba to four.
Atwal says more than 1,600 positive samples were screened in February and no other variants of concern have been identified.