Manitoba's Chief Public Health Officer is pleading with the public to get their COVID-19 vaccines and boosters, showing omicron modelling predicting a spike of more than 1,000 daily COVID-19 cases by the new year.
Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin says during a Wednesday press conference that there have been very few omicron variant cases in Manitoba but is "quite concerned" about the variant and that community spread is unavoidable.
"We all need to reconsider our holiday plans because omicron is here," Roussin says. "We need as many Manitobas as we can to get that in the next two weeks before what we know is going to be a large amount of gathering during our holiday season before we have widespread community transmission of omicron, which we also know is on its way here."
He says if Manitoba follows the pattern omicron is creating around the world, Manitoba could see rapid case spiking.
Modelling released by the province shows cases could soon see a spike that is off the charts.
"We do not have details yet on just how severe omicron is, but with transmission like this we cannot rely on it not being severe enough to cause us harm."
Roussin is predicting a quadrupling of COVID-19 cases in the days after Christmas, going from an estimated 223 new cases on December 25 to more than 1,000 daily cases in the new year.
He says they are seeing in the United Kingdom that cases double every two and a half days, and doubling every three days in Ontario. The delta variant saw cases doubling every 34 days.
The doctor is pleading with Manitobans to get their first, second, and third COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible. He says the vaccine is very effective and very safe, and people who are not vaccinated are 4.3 times more likely to contract COVID-19, 11 times more likely to end up in the hospital, and 18 times more likely to end up in intensive care.
"We know that we have seen that clear growth advantage of Delta, which is why we are most concerned about this," Roussin says. "We need to be very prepared for the exponential growth of omicron."
"Rising case counts and COVID-19 transmission in the province are placing increased pressures on our health system. Case counts and hospitalizations are rising, and Manitobans are encouraged to be proactive in protecting our healthcare system," Health Minister Audrey Gordon says in her opening statements. "We are not helpless in the fight."
The COVID-19 vaccine task force's medial lead, Dr. Joss Reimer, says decreasing immunity against COVID-19 is a concern. She is asking people not to wait for their second and third doses.
The province says 3,748 COVID-19 vaccine appointments were booked on Wednesday.