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Coronavirus: Eight new COVID-19 cases in Manitoba

WATCH: Manitoba officials provide update on COVID-19

There are now 72 confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 in Manitoba, public health officials announced Sunday.

That’s an increase of eight cases since Saturday.

Public health officials are now investigating how the new patients contracted the virus and are speaking to people they have been in contact with.

One person is in intensive care battling the disease, and another is in hospital, said Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer.

One Manitoban, a woman in her 60s, died of the disease earlier this week.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Manitoba announces first death, public gatherings to be limited to 10

The majority of Manitoba’s COVID-19 cases — 60 — are in Winnipeg. The Prairie Mountain Health Region has five cases, the Southern Health Region has four, and the Interlake-Eastern Health Region has three, according to provincial data.

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The Northern Health Region has zero cases.

Roussin highlighted a clinical trial at the University of Manitoba studying the medical efficacy of hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug, as a treatment for COVID-19 as a promising development — he noted the trial has just begun and urged people to only take medicines as advised by doctors.

That study needs more test subjects, Roussin said — people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and people who have had direct contact with confirmed infections, including health care workers.

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Two COVID-19 patients have recovered since the first cases in Manitoba were discovered just over two weeks ago.

Saturday saw a 25-case spike in confirmed or probable diagnoses of the disease.

READ MORE: Top 2 WRHA executives leave the country in midst of COVID-19 outbreak; now in self-isolation

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Manitoba will limit gatherings to 10 people starting Monday at 12:01 a.m. under a public health order issued by Roussin. That’s down from a 50-person limit on gatherings issued previously. The ban applies to gatherings both indoors and outdoors, but doesn’t yet apply to workplaces.

Coronavirus outbreak: Manitoba to ban gatherings of 10 or more people
Coronavirus outbreak: Manitoba to ban gatherings of 10 or more people

That ban applies to places of worship, weddings and funerals — it does not include health care facilities or places where social services are provided like homeless shelters and childcare centres.

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Retail businesses, including grocery stores, shopping centres, pharmacies and gas stations will remain open, but those businesses are responsible for ensuring a one-to-two metre distance between shoppers.

People should not panic about the recent spike in cases, Roussin said Saturday, noting the health care system has been preparing for increased numbers since February.

Roussin again urged Manitobans to stay home, practice physical distancing, cancel travel plans and wash their hands.

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Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

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For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.