Reactions have been mixed so far to Manitoba’s latest public health orders targeting children in sports, unvaccinated churchgoers in the southern part of the province and hospital capacity.
But for many, one thing is certain: as Manitoba once again becomes the hot spot of COVID-19 among Canada’s provinces, something needs to be done.
The middle province secured that title on Friday, when its operating seven-day average of new cases per 100,000 people. rose to 84 a week – or 12 cases per 100,000 people per day. The province previously became Canada’s COVID-19 hotspot during the third wave in May.
The next highest provincial rate is currently in neighboring Saskatchewan, which as of Friday had a seven-day case rate of 79 per 100,000 people.
At present, however, Saskatchewan still has a higher 14-day case rate (172 per 100,000) than Manitoba (146).
With Manitoba’s cases accelerating among people under 20, some say it makes sense that new rules announced by the province on Friday target children over 11 who have not yet been vaccinated.
As of Dec. 6, anyone between the ages of 12 and 17 will need to have proof of at least one vaccine dose of COVID-19 – or a negative rapid test result from the past 72 hours – to play indoor sports in Manitoba.
“I guess we’re not so surprised. There was some indication that there was some spread through youth sports activities,” Janet McMahon, president and CEO of Sport Manitoba, said after Friday’s announcement.
Sport Manitoba oversees about 70 different organizations across the province, all of which are keen to do what they can to ensure they can continue to operate safely, said Janet McMahon, president and CEO of the organization.
McMahon said the province has indicated that the percentage of eligible children who are already vaccinated is quite high, so she is optimistic the mandate will not have a major impact on sports that are already happening.
Parent Courtney Blocker is among those who are excited to see the new measures.
His 12-year-old daughter plays hockey in Winnipeg, and he approves safety precautions to keep her and her teammates safe.
“There have been experiences where teams have had explosions at hockey arenas, so it’s happening. We just have to do what we can to protect them,” he said.
Peter Woods, executive director of Hockey Manitoba, said that while he assumes more than 80 percent of his organization’s members are already immunized against COVID-19, the new rules will affect those who are still unsure of receiving the sting. .
He said Hockey Manitoba supports the new rules, but he still expects to get some repulsion from unvaccinated parents.
Currently, the Manitoba public health order says anyone who is 18 or older must be vaccinated to enter an indoor sports or recreation facility.
Some parents, however, might argue that they should have the option of being tested instead of proving they are vaccinated, as will their children, Woods said.
Because those tests have to be done in pharmacies, they can be hard to reach for people in some places, Woods said.
“That could create some problems and could be a fallout,” he said.
“Some kids are likely to get away from the sport.”
Meanwhile, the principal of Maples Collegiate in Winnipeg said he is glad the province has finally brought in a vaccination mandate so that it is not up to individual school sections to introduce their own rules.
“I think it’s a wise move to keep our kids safe and also move forward to get back to the normalcy that we’re all trying to achieve,” Scott Shier said.
Church rules indeed
The new public health orders have also reduced meeting sizes for religious events in the Southern Health region that do not require proof of vaccination by attendees.
The new rules in that part of Manitoba, which has some of the province’s lowest vaccination rates and highest test positivity rates, kicked off Saturday at midnight.
Winkler’s mayor said the new restrictions could be difficult for people who depend on worship services in the region. But he hopes to see the churches of southern Manitoba city – and people – follow the rules.
“Personally, I think churches should also step up to the plate and say,‘ Yes, we will obey, ’and not bypass the system, because I think that only adds to the problem,” Martin Harder said on Saturday.
“I would appreciate some grace for our community and just want to make sure they realize we’re working together to try to reach the end game.”
Manitoba’s latest pandemic measures also include canceling a number of surgeries starting next week to free up more space in the province’s strained intensive care units.
One ICU doctor says the new rules are welcome measures, as the province sees an increase in patients with COVID-19 landing in critical care – but they are probably still not enough.
“The problem is that there is [less] ICU’s bed capacity now than it was when we had to flex a lot up during the third wave, ”said Dr. Eric Jacobsohn, a attending physician at St. Boniface Hospital and Health Sciences Center in Winnipeg.
“Can we continue another massive growth? It’s hard to imagine how.”
He said the province must prepare for the worst and communicate that plan with health care better than it did in the third wave of the pandemic.
“[It] it appears again that exactly what the plans are and how to hire the front-line health workers will again be ad hoc, one day at a time – which is perplexing, to say the least, ”Jacobsohn said.