Infectious disease expert discouraged by Manitoba decision to ease COVID-19 restrictions – .

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Infectious disease expert discouraged by Manitoba decision to ease COVID-19 restrictions – .


A Winnipeg intensive care doctor shakes his head at the Manitoba government’s decision to start relaxing some of the public health orders designed to hamper the spread of COVID-19 this weekend.
“The positivity of our tests and our number of cases will continue to decline for about two weeks, but then they will level off and then they will start to rise again,” said Dr Anand Kumar, an infectious disease specialist who has been a critic. of the plan to reopen the province.

He believes the province should have waited for the reopening plans announced on Wednesday, which go into effect on Saturday.

Kumar and 10 other medics have urged the province to pull out, saying the plan focuses too much on first-dose vaccination rates and does not take into account the highly contagious B.1617.2 variant, also known as the delta variant. .

There are concerns that a single dose of a COVID-19 vaccine may be relatively ineffective against this variant.

As of Wednesday, 71.6 percent of Manitobans aged 12 or older now have a first dose of the vaccine, according to the province’s Immunization Dashboard, while 28.8 percent have two doses.

The province set a single-dose vaccination target of 70% and 25% complete vaccines before easing restrictions.

Premier Brian Pallister and Provincial Chief Public Health Officer Dr Brent Roussin on Wednesday said the first rollback would take effect at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, allowing businesses like restaurants, gyms and hair salons to reopen. In addition, fully immunized people will be able to visit personal care homes and the limits of outdoor gatherings will increase.

Dr Anand Kumar, an intensive care physician at the Winnipeg Health Sciences Center, fears the province is reopening too much, too soon. (SRC)

Kumar was hoping to see the percentage of Manitobans taking double doses to at least 50 percent, before things opened up.

“What’s going on with COVID, especially the delta variant, is basically a run. Unlike the human runner, however, he actually accelerates as we approach the finish line, ”Kumar said.

“It’s a situation of exponential growth, so the longer it stays uncontrolled or partially controlled, the faster it will grow. “

Test positivity rate must drop: Kumar

There were seven cases of COVID-19 in Manitoba originating from the delta variant on June 4. As of Tuesday, there are 164 cases and two deaths linked to the delta, according to the province’s report. online variant dashboard.

The government can give Manitobans an edge in the race against the variant by maintaining strict orders until test positivity rates are between 2.5% and 3.5% and there is no no more than 50 new cases of COVID-19 per day, Kumar said.

As of Wednesday, the current five-day test positive rate was 7.1% provincially and 6.6% in Winnipeg. There were 123 new cases.

“If we keep pushing those numbers down, we’re giving ourselves extra leeway” – the equivalent of starting a racing competitor “50 yards back,” Kumar said.

“Right now I think we’re almost on a path to lose the race. How much we are losing her, I don’t know. “

Canada has not yet approved any vaccines for children under 12. If Manitoba sees a fourth wave driven by the delta, the impact could be substantial, Kumar said.

“I’m quite worried that the next wave will be primarily focused on children. “

Alberta, Saskatchewan. ‘go see problems’

One thing that brings comfort is that it’s summer and more people can be outside. Respiratory viruses spread best indoors, so Kumar was happy to see the province maintain its limits on gatherings inside private residences.

Visitors may only enter someone’s home for brief essential activities, such as using the washroom.

“Going outside is really a relatively safe thing. So this is definitely where you want to ease the restrictions the most, ”he said.

There are extended inner freedoms for those who have both doses, which gets Kumar’s approval.

“I think it’s very reasonable, to be honest. If you are doubly vaccinated and more than two or three weeks your ability to interact with other people who are also vaccinated, two or three weeks – it’s also good that we are going to go to the individual level, ”he said. he declares.

“Now at the population level we’re not as good as we’re going to get because we need to achieve approximate 90% immunity where everyone can be safe as a group. “

The thing he is most grateful for about reopening Manitoba is that it does not reflect what Alberta and Saskatchewan are doing. Both are expected to fully open within the next three weeks.

Saskatchewan’s main goal was to reach a goal of 70% of people 12 and older vaccinated with a first dose before its final stage of reopening, which is now scheduled to begin on July 11.

“I think it’s really worth taking the more cautious approach,” Kumar said of Manitoba’s plan.

“I think places like Alberta, Saskatchewan are going to see problems a lot faster and in a much more dramatic way, potentially. “

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