Manitoba has announced tighter rules for self-isolation, but they only apply to residents of Southern Health-Santé Sud.
As it currently stands in Manitoba, household members without symptoms do not need to self-isolate if there is an asymptomatic individual or asymptomatic close contact in their home while they are waiting for test results. The symptomatic individual or asymptomatic close contact needs to stay in their own room and, if possible, use their own bathroom and not use common areas.
It is recommended that household members wear a mask and physically distance where possible when outside the household in these circumstances and avoid leaving the home for non-essential reasons. If the close contact becomes symptomatic, all household members unless otherwise exempt should self-isolate until test results are known or advised by public health. Exemptions from self-isolation are in place for individuals who are fully immunized or infected with COVID-19 in the past six months.
However, Manitoba's Deputy Chief Provincial Public Health Officer announced changes Tuesday afternoon. Dr. Jazz Atwal says the changes are the result of increased community transmission and case numbers in the Southern Health-Santé Sud health region. Dr. Atwal says public health officials are implementing stricter household self-isolation requirements for this region. Household members of close contacts or symptomatic people who have not had any known COVID-19 exposures must also self-isolate. The online screening tool will provide guidance on the timeline for self-isolation. Public health officials will also provide this guidance during the contact tracing process.
Fully vaccinated individuals or those infected within the last six months will be exempt from this requirement. Asymptomatic designated workers who are not fully vaccinated, but are taking part in a regular rapid testing program are also exempt from self-isolation. If the worker or a close contact in the household has symptoms, the exemption does not apply.
On Tuesday, public health officials announced 66 new cases of COVID-19 in Manitoba. Of those, 24 are in Southern Health-Santé Sud.
There are 928 active cases of the virus in Manitoba. The breakdown per regional health authority is as follows:
- Northern health region - 293
- Southern Health-Santé Sud health region - 232
- Winnipeg health region - 202
- Prairie Mountain health region - 125
- Interlake-Eastern health region - 76
Dr. Atwal explains the reason why these increased restrictions are for Southern Health-Santé Sud and not Northern health region is that in the Northern health region there is one larger outbreak and one smaller outbreak that are skewing test numbers.
"These are isolated localized communities," says Dr. Atwal. "That's where case numbers and test positivity can look very skewed and we need to interpret those numbers carefully, depending on the population we're looking at and the geographic area of the setting."
He notes in Southern Health-Santé Sud there is much more of a diffuse number of cases throughout the region, which is a stark comparison to what they are seeing up north.
Dr. Atwal says the vaccine uptake in Southern Health-Santé Sud is also lower compared to other regions, which adds to the risk as well. In Manitoba, 85.7 per cent of eligible residents have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 81.9 per cent have received two doses. The vaccine uptake is as follows for the seven districts in the southeast:
- Niverville/ Ritchot - 82.6 per cent
- St. Pierre/ De Salaberry - 79.3 per cent
- Tache - 78.5 per cent
- Rural East - 65.5 per cent
- Ste. Anne/ La Broquerie - 65.5 per cent
- Steinbach - 65.4 per cent
- Hanover - 51.2 per cent
According to Dr. Atwal, the new restrictions announced today are effective immediately and will be in place until the community transmission in the region decreases or when the current strain on the health care system capacity is reduced.
Currently, there are 85 Manitobans hospitalized with COVID-19 including 48 people with active COVID-19 as well as 37 people who are no longer infectious. There are 16 Manitoba patients receiving intensive care for COVID-19 including 11 people in intensive care units with active COVID-19 as well as five people who are no longer infectious but continue to require critical care.