Manitoba has reached its first stage reopening criteria a week early, and the province’s top doctor hinted that more information on health order changes would be coming on Wednesday.
Manitoba’s reopening plan is linked to first and second-dose vaccination targets, with some restrictions loosening by Canada Day if 70 per cent of all Manitobans 12 and over have received their first shot, and 25 per cent have received their second shot.
As of Monday, 71.2 per cent of Manitobans have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose and 25.4 per cent have received two doses, meeting the reopening criteria.
Dr. Brent Roussin, the chief provincial public health officer, acknowledged the province meeting its target at a news conference Monday afternoon.
“So yes, we’ve met those vaccine targets. So hats off to the vaccine task force and Manitobans for getting their shots, but that’s only one thing we’re considering when looking at our reopening plans.”
Roussin said there are still other factors to consider despite declining cases and increased vaccination rates.
“As cases do drop, we still have that strain on the health-care system, so we have to be mindful of that,” he said. “We’ve been talking all along that whether its vaccine rates, test positivity, hospital admissions, we don’t just look at one indicator when taking these things into consideration.”
When pressured for more details about reopening, Roussin said more information will be coming on Wednesday.
“We have a lot of things we are still considering at this point,” said Roussin. “We haven’t fully decided. We haven’t made that decision yet on what the specifics will be.”
The province may have met its first vaccine target, but a potential shortage of Pfizer doses could derail the vaccination rate in the future since it is the only one currently approved for youth.
“Vaccine supply has always been our rate-limiting step,” said Roussin. “We’ve met our target for our first stage of reopening plans now, and as we move forward, we are going to work with whatever vaccine we can to meet our targets.”
OTHER PROVINCES REOPENING
Other prairie provinces like Alberta and Saskatchewan have already announced reopening plans. Alberta plans to lift all current public health restrictions on July 1, while Saskatchewan will lift them on July 11. Despite this, Roussin said he feels no pressure to speed up Manitoba’s plan.
“We are looking at our own epidemiology. I think it is certainly relevant, though,” Roussin said. “We were late to the third wave, so we are weeks behind them coming out of the third wave.”
Roussin said dealing with the third wave later gives the province a chance to see how other province’s plans work.
“We’re going to be watching very closely the successes they have with their reopening plans and if there is any increased transmission or any issues with the Delta variant,” he said.
Roussin said Manitoba’s reopening plan does account for the rising Delta variant since the plan was created later than other provinces.