As Manitoba continues to ease coronavirus restrictions, one Winnipeg doctor is warning of a third potential lockdown.
Dr. Anand Kumar, an infectious disease expert and critical care specialist, said he’s seeing red flags in Manitoba’s COVID-19 data.
“I think there’s a distinct possibility that we’re going to see another wave sometime around mid-May,” Kumar told Global News.
Kumar said the daily cases have recently been showing signs of creeping back up to a level that’s too high for his liking.
He’s particularly concerned about the new variants circulating in the province.
On Monday, health officials announced 18 more confirmed cases of the of the B.1.1.7 variant, first discovered in the United Kingdom, in Manitoba.
Nine of the province’s now 41 lab-confirmed variant of concern cases have not been linked to either travel or close contact with a known case.
Kumar hopes the Manitoba government will tighten restrictions before the situation gets out of control.
“If you look at what’s happened with B.1.1.7 … in other countries, they’ve had to go into full lockdown to get it under control,” Kumar said. “I would rather tighten up now than have to do a full lockdown in a month or two months.”
Epidemiologist and founder of EPI Research, Cynthia Carr, said she won’t make any predictions, but isn’t calling for further opening, or closing.
“I’d like to watch it for another month before we make any further changes,” Carr said.
She would rather health officials focus on making sure people are clear on the current orders and sticking to the fundamentals.
“We just want to be very cautious at looking at the data and not having sort of a ping pong of opening, closing,” she said. “It’s not good for physical health and it’s certainly not good for our mental health.”
When asked about another potential lockdown on Monday, Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief public health officer, said the province is trying to balance the well-being of Manitobans while keeping a close eye on the cases.
“We’re definitely concerned about our numbers. We’re watching them very closely, but we can’t focus only on those numbers,” Roussin said.
Going forward, Roussin said he’s hoping the vaccine rollout will change the number of new cases that turn into hospitalizations.
“We know six to eight per cent of those people would get admitted to hospital. One to two per cent would go to ICU. But the vaccine will change those proportions, or we’re expecting it to change those proportions,” he said.
“That does mean that perhaps we’ll be able to tolerate more total case numbers because if people aren’t having severe outcomes, then it’s less of a concern.”
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