Mayor Brian Bowman urged calm Thursday after the first presumptive case of COVID-19 was reported in the province, inside Winnipeg.
“Citizens should rest assured that all necessary steps are being taken to protect the heath and safety of Winnipeggers.”
Jay Shaw of the city’s Emergency Measures Centre said the centre was activated last week and the city is looking at how to protect frontline staff, citizens, and making sure they are “ready to be able to handle any shortages of supply chains or staff issues.”
The city is taking steps and looking a potential action to changing some of their procedures, said Shaw, especially around social distancing.
Asked about a rumoured COVID-19 risk at the Transcona Fire Hall No. 21, Shaw said they couldn’t confirm any details other than that an incident happened Thursday morning in the fire paramedic community.
“We’re just starting to get all our facts,” said Shaw, adding they don’t want to jump to conclusions until they know the full details. “We will get you more information.”
Shaw assured Winnipeggers the city has a contingency plan should first responder units be quarantined.
“We have continuity plans to make sure we have the right amount of staff to respond to 911 calls.”
Bowman asked Winnipeggers to “do their part.”
Update, 11:50 a.m.:
Winnipeg mayor Brian Bowman sent out this statement Thursday:
“Today, Manitoba Health has confirmed the first presumptive positive case of COVID-19 in Winnipeg. Manitoba Health is now recommending that social distancing strategies be implemented to limit the spread of COVID-19. Public health officials are also reminding all Manitobans to frequently wash their hands, cough and sneeze into their sleeves and to stay home when sick.
While reducing the risk of infection is a focus, it is important to note that the Public Health Agency of Canada says the risk of Canadians contracting the virus remains low.
Community health and well-being is our top priority. While the news of Winnipeg’s first presumptive positive case of COVID-19 may be unsettling, citizens should rest assured that all necessary steps are being taken to protect the health and safety of our citizens. The Office of Emergency Management is the lead for the City of Winnipeg and is collaborating with its counterparts from the Province of Manitoba and actively monitoring the situation. ”
We will livestream a press conference from Mayor Bowman at noon.
At a Thursday morning press conference, Health Minister Cameron Friesen said the province’s first presumptive case is a woman in her 40s living in the Winnipeg area.
The woman told health officials she had recently travelled to the Philippines. She had been self-isolating at home when she returned a few days ago, said Friesen.
Friesen said the woman is in stable condition and remains in isolation at home.
He said he wouldn’t go into any further details about the woman, citing privacy legislation.
Friesen said samples from the patient have been sent to the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg for additional testing, which is expected to take 24 hours.
About 500 tests were done in Manitoba yesterday for the novel coronavirus, said Friesen. The results will take about 24 hours to come back.
Meanwhile Ministers Eileen Clarke and Blaine Pederson didn’t attend the legislature today after returning from a Toronto mining conference where a person in Ontario who attended later tested positive.
The government says all provincial employees who went have been asked to remove themselves from work.
New screening centres
Two new screening centres will also be opening in Winnipeg, said Friesen.
“People will not have to worry about where these centres are because that is the information they will receive when they call Health Links,” he said.
The two new screening areas will be at Access Winnipeg West (280 Booth Dr.) and Access Fort Garry (135 Plaza Dr.). People should call Health Links to find out which one they should go to if they have symptoms, according to Lanette Siragusa, Shared Health’s chief nursing officer.
The best thing people can do is wash their hands, cover their cough and stay home if they are sick, said Friesen.
“We are all in this together,” he said.
Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief public health officer, said most people who contract COVID-19 will see mild to moderate symptoms.
While Friesen said it’s not time to ban large public events, he urged people to be prudent, with Roussin echoing his recommendation.
“All Manitobans have a role to play. If you’re going to attend a large, crowded event, consider that if you’re at risk,” Roussin added.
–With files from the Canadian Press