WINNIPEG - After less than a week of classes, a Winnipeg elementary school is reporting its first case of COVID-19.
École R.H.G. Bonnycastle School explains that public health officials notified them of at least one confirmed case of the virus identified on Wednesday in a kindergarten class. Officials are asking close contacts and their families to self-isolate. Bonnycastle School administrators also say families should get tested for COVID-19 to identify any transmission between other students, especially if symptoms like fever, coughing, fatigue, difficulty breathing, or loss of smell or taste occur.
While children born after 2009 aren't eligible to be immunized against COVID-19, Manitoba Health says if most people age 12 and up are vaccinated, school exposures will be less likely to be transmitted further.
The province says COVID-19 cases, severe illness, and strain on Manitoba’s healthcare system have been declining significantly since most Manitobans have had their immune systems primed to recognize SARS-CoV-2. But health officials say safety measures in schools are still necessary, requiring mask use for all students, and vaccination or COVID-19 tests up to three times per week for all school staff.
Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin says children are also less likely to transmit COVID-19 in general, and are at lower risk of severe illness. Provincial data released this past week shows that less than 2 per cent of Manitobans aged 0 to 18 who tested positive for COVID-19 had to be hospitalized, and none of them needed intensive care. Roussin says the benefits of in-person learning outweigh the limited risk of the spread of the virus.
The Manitoba government says it will re-introduce notifications of COVID-19 cases in schools and the K-12 Cases Dashboard within the coming week.