Stronger health orders are not excluded: Atwal



MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS (FILE)

Dr Joss Reimer (left) and Dr Jazz Atwal.

Two of the province’s top doctors are urging Manitobans to be careful while on vacation and get vaccinated as soon as possible as cases rise.

Provincial Deputy Director of Public Health Dr Jazz Atwal said on Wednesday they were constantly reviewing the data to make decisions and the situation was changing rapidly.

The cases will increase much more, he warned. The seven-day average for new cases is up 60% from a week ago. For now, however, they are not changing any of the public health measures.

But that doesn’t mean they won’t change at any time.

“We are already talking about what else can be done,” he said. “There are many factors that go into making decisions about public health orders. We look at things like the severity of the illness, compliance with pending orders and cases. There is no specific trigger. But don’t worry about the numbers, listen to Voicemail. ”

As more fully vaccinated people become infected, Atwal said the unvaccinated still make up the bulk of hospitalizations and intensive care admissions. He also warned that omicron would become the dominant strain of COVID very soon. As of Wednesday, there were 18 cases in the province.

Atwal also had some promising news. The province now offers monoclonal antibody treatment to those infected with COVID-19 and did not have antibodies in their system, to boost their immune response to the virus.

“While it is not a substitute for vaccination, it can reduce the risk of hospitalization for people at high risk of serious illness,” he said.

This is the first treatment offered to outpatients in Manitoba. Atwal explained that the treatment is an injection that gives the body temporary antibodies to help the immune system fight infection. It is given to a person within seven days of the first sign of symptoms.

To get this treatment, people have to meet certain criteria. They must have a positive COVID test, have no vaccine or are only partially vaccinated, have no history of COVID infection and be over 40 years of age. Some may be eligible if they are over 18 and have a health condition, or are immunocompromised due to a medical condition or health treatment, regardless of their vaccine status or previous infection with COVID- 19.

If you’re eligible, you’ll be referred for treatment, Atwal said.

He reiterated that everyone must do their part to limit the spread of the virus by complying with health orders, limiting contact, wearing masks and getting vaccinated if they are eligible and as soon as possible.

Rapid test kits – which parents can opt out of – are also being distributed to schools across the province. Manitoba Education announced on Wednesday that classes will resume on January 10 to give the province more time and collect data on the spread of omicron.

The vaccination campaign has so far seen more than 2.3 million doses distributed across the province, said Dr Joss Reimer, medical lead for the provincial vaccine implementation task force. This includes more than 55,000 doses given to children aged five to 11 years. As of Wednesday, 44% of children in this age group received at least one dose. For the province as a whole, 87 percent of Manitobans are now fully immune and 89 percent have received at least one dose.

To speed up vaccine rollout during the holidays, Reimer said they are reassigning staff to make more appointments available at provincial clinics and asking some medical students to return during the holidays to work as vaccinators.

“If you’re having trouble getting an appointment at a provincial site, keep trying, as we are adding more appointments,” she said. “You can also call doctors’ offices and pharmacies. There are hundreds of sites and options for you to choose from. ”

In the event that the omicron variant turns out to be less serious, Atwal said there may be a silver lining in the current situation. They closely monitor compliance with commands and messages. Omicron is more contagious, he said, which means there will be more cases. The severity of the variant is still unknown.

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“To be considered less serious, the results would have to be 90% less serious compared to what we experienced in the delta variant.”

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