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Province Should Ramp up Testing for Covid-19 Variants

Treaty One Territory, Winnipeg, Manitoba - Manitoba Liberals say the provincial government needs to ramp up testing, including for Covid-19 variants that are more infectious, especially with schools reopening next week.

There have been mutations to the Covid-19 virus in the UK, South Africa and Brazil, with some strains being more infectious. The new strains have been detected in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario.

The symptoms of the virus appear to be the same - with the same symptoms and death rates as the original strain of Covid-19, but it is easier to catch and spread, creating surges in infections.

A recent media report suggested that only Saskatchewan is broadly testing for variants.

"We need more testing, more contact tracing and we need to be on the lookout for these new variants or we will see a third wave," said Manitoba Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont. "The PCs promised 3,000 tests a day, and Manitoba has routinely been falling far short of that."

Lamont, Manitoba Liberal Health Critic Jon Gerrard, and Manitoba Seniors Critic Cindy Lamoureux have written to Health Minister Heather Stefanson asking for the government to provide more information so Manitobans know what the current status of testing for variants.

Gerrard said since Manitoba has the Federal Virology Lab, local testing capacity exists.

"Where these variants have had outbreaks, the curve for new infections has been vertical, so we need to be very vigilant," said Gerrard.

Cindy Lamoureux, Seniors' Critic said the government still needs to increase testing, including asymptomatic testing.

"Ontario recommended asymptomatic testing for everyone in personal care homes months ago. Seniors are the most vulnerable to this virus, and we need to learn from past mistakes to keep our elders safe," said Lamoureux.


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