Manitoba premier, top doctor to give COVID-19 update at 2 p.m. CT

Manitoba’s premier and chief public health officer will provide an update on the pandemic Monday as COVID-19 cases driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant skyrocket across the country.

CBC News will stream the 2 p.m. news conference live here, as well as on Facebook and CBC Gem.

Monday’s update follows an impromptu news conference on Christmas Eve, when Dr. Brent Roussin urged people to cancel holiday plans and warned that Manitobans could face more restrictions “in the coming days.”

“We’re looking at this by the hour,” Roussin said that day. “Manitobans need to prepare that next week, we probably won’t have large gatherings.”

Just before Christmas, the province imposed new pandemic rules, which brought capacity limits across Manitoba.

A worker swabs a patient for a coronavirus test. Manitoba’s test positivity rate was 12.6 per cent on Friday, the last time the data was provided. In Winnipeg, that rate was 14.7 per cent on Friday. (Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images)

Figures could underrepresent true COVID numbers

Manitoba reported 2,154 new cases of COVID-19 since Christmas Eve, including 785 cases on Saturday, 694 cases on Sunday and 675 cases on Monday.

Christmas Day’s case numbers marked the highest single-day increase the province has seen over the course of the pandemic to date.

Roussin has previously said these figures could be underrepresenting the true number of Manitoba’s COVID-19 infections in light of long lines at test sites and extended waits for results.

The delays may have discouraged some people from going to get tested at all.

Manitoba’s five-day test positivity rate is 19 per cent as of Monday, up from 12.6 on Friday. In Winnipeg, that rate is 21.2 per cent, up from 14.7 per cent three days ago.

Monday’s news conference will be the first time Premier Heather Stefanson has addressed the public in days. She was not present at either of the two previous news conferences.

Health Minister Audrey Gordon stood by the premier in spite of her absence.

“I have the full confidence of the premier, as does Dr. Reimer and Dr. Roussin, to communicate to Manitobans how urgent it is that they follow the public health orders,” Gordon said on Friday.

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