As Manitoba moves to a new phase of the pandemic, Dr. Brent Roussin says it's time to transition how the government handles its response.

"It's difficult to put into words how challenging these last two years have been for Manitobans," says Dr. Roussin.

He notes more than 1,700 Manitobans have died with COVID-19. For those left behind, they have been forced to mourn those losses much differently, without the community of care that is often relied upon. Others have suffered severe outcomes with lengthy recoveries. Roussin adds births, birthdays, and graduations have gone uncelebrated, while many Manitoba businesses have been decimated. And, who can forget the toll this pandemic has taken on the mental health of Manitobans.

But, Roussin says through all of this, Manitobans have stepped up to limit the spread of the virus. They have limited the impact on our health care system by following public health orders, abiding by restrictions and getting vaccinated.

Roussin held what he said will be his last regularly scheduled press conference on Wednesday. From now on, he says, conferences will only be scheduled on an as-needed basis. He also says that as case counts drop in the province, the government is shutting down some COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites.

Opposition parties say that the government is moving too quickly, however. "If we're going to live with this virus, we have to live with it and keep monitoring it for outbreaks. The government is going too far to shut things down," Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont said.

The Opposition New Democrats said the Progressive Conservative government still has much to answer for about its handling of the pandemic. They called Wednesday for a public inquiry into the death of Krystal Mousseau, a woman who died during one of the pandemic peaks last spring.

Mousseau was in intensive care at a hospital in Brandon at a time when the government was transferring patients out of province to free up beds. She died as she was being taken by ambulance to an airplane that was to take her to Ottawa.

There are currently 5,911 active COVID-19 cases in Manitoba, according to the province's dashboard. Of those cases, 152 are active cases in hospital, with a total of 334 people currently in hospital. As of Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. there were 13 people in the ICU, with eight of them considered active cases.

On Tuesday the last of the province's public health orders were lifted, with mask use and vaccination requirements for public places no longer being required. Some private businesses may choose to still require either or both for entry, however.


With files from The Canadian Press and Shannon Dueck