Manitoba moves to having COVID-positive people notify close contacts themselves

Public health officials will no longer notify close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases in most situations, the province’s website says. 

Instead, those who test positive for the virus will be asked to notify their contacts themselves.

Public health officials will still do contact tracing in some cases, such as outbreaks in schools, personal care homes, child-care facilities, shelters and health-care facilities, the province said. 

The change was made in an anticipation of a surge in cases due to the Omicron variant, the province said.

“This increase in cases and contacts is expected to exceed public health contact notification resources,” the website said Monday.

“To reduce the risk of further transmission, confirmed COVID-19 cases will now be asked to provide notice to close contacts.”

It’s unclear whether people who test positive will be required to notify close contacts or face a penalty if they don’t.

The website only says people are being asked to do so. 

CBC News has reached out to the province for comment.

On Friday, Manitoba’s chief public health officer said the province would be changing the way it approached contact tracing in light of how rapidly the Omicron variant can replicate. 

“When you’re talking about a highly infectious variant that has a relatively short incubation period, the role of contact tracing is diminished,” Dr. Brent Roussin said. 

The province will still do contact tracing in high-risk scenarios but will refocus its resources on vaccination efforts instead, he said.

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