Manitoba no longer notifying about school variant of concern cases

WINNIPEG — When variant of concern cases were linked to Miles Macdonell Collegiate, a letter from health officials went home to parents last weekend about the specific COVID-19 strains.

Now, the province is no longer going to advise whether a case is a variant or not.

“Now what I think the province is saying is (to) act as though it is,” said epidemiologist Cynthia Carr of EPI Research.

The province’s Restoring Safe Schools website says variants of concern are becoming the dominant strain in Manitoba and suggests stricter measures around contacts and self-isolation reflect that.

As a result, the notification process is changing.

“There will no longer be separate notification or different recommendations if the case is a Variant of Concern,” the site reads.

The website said recommendations and aggressive measures for contacts will be implemented based on school exposure, not specific to whether a variant is identified.

The province issued a statement to CTV News.

“As variants of concern become the dominant strain of COVID-19 in Manitoba, the value of screening and sequencing for specific variants becomes less important in all sectors because soon the majority of all COVID-19 cases will be related to a variant of concern. That’s why the province has taken steps to strengthen the case management and self-isolation protocols.”

Carr said notification of an exposure is what’s important, not the strain.

“As a parent, you need to take it seriously regardless of whether it’s a variant of concern or not,” she said.

The province says it will still provide a dashboard that shows school-related infections over the last 14 days, including the number of variants of concern.

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