This story will be updated when the press conference begins and throughout the conference as it runs.
Manitoba health officials say four more cases of COVID-19 have popped up in Manitoba.
As of Wednesday morning, Manitoba had 221 cases in the province. There were 149 active cases, and 69 have recovered from the virus.
On Tuesday, it was announced a third person had died.
Cadham Provincial Laboratory performed 477 tests Tuesday. A total of 14,708 tests have been performed since early February.
The next few weeks are “critical” for flattening the curve, said Dr. Brent Roussin, the province’s chief public health officer.
Roussin said people should not attend extended family dinners, or faith-based services this weekend despite the Passover and Easter holiday.
Next week, social gatherings may be reduced further, he added.
“I am expecting many more cases,” said Roussin, saying the few cases Manitoba has had over the past two days is not the number of cases flattening.
“In these next couple weeks, in the overall outbreak, the overall curve, they will be vital … in the long term.”
Lanette Siragusa of Shared Health said so far, 20 health care workers have tested positive for the virus.
Of the health care workers who tested positive for the virus, two are from the Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority and the other 18 are from Winnipeg.
Half of the total cases involving health care workers are from the same medicine unit at the Health Sciences Centre, in connection to a respiratory outbreak there that the province said they were investigating on Tuesday. Ten staff on that unit have now tested positive for COVID-19, including a combination of physicians, nurses, and health care support staff. Four patients on the unit also tested positive.
“This outbreak is obviously very concerning to all of us and protecting our staff and patients is of upmost importance to us,” said Siragusa, adding that the unit has since undergone a deep clean.
None of the staff testing positive at the unit have worked since April 1 or while they were symptomatic.
Staff who had close contact with the positive staff or who worked on that unit are now self-isolating at home. Staff who intermittently worked in the area of the unit or who had indirect contact with positive workers were assessed and were able to return to work if they weren’t showing symptoms.
Siragusa, addressing the province’s Personal Protection Equipment supply, said they’re doing everything they can to get products for Manitoba’s health care providers, but added they’re now dealing with 600 vendors instead of the usual 60.
While their stock of most items are good, they are running low on N95 masks, gloves and gowns.
Siragusa said she anticipates stock of those will run out within a week if supplies don’t ship in.
“We think it’ll be a very short term situation, but that’s what we’re facing right now.”
She said Shared Health has ordered millions of pieces of various supplies and that Manitoba was the first to place orders, but disruptions have altered things.
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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