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Don’t jump the gun on loosening COVID-19 restrictions: Manitoba epidemiologist

Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba chief public health officer.
Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba chief public health officer. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
Manitoba’s relatively low number of COVID-19 cases is encouraging, but a Winnipeg epidemiologist continues to call for caution, despite the numbers.
Cynthia Carr, founder of EPI Research, told 680 CJOB it’s too early to make predictions on when restrictions should be loosened — saying projections wouldn’t be valuable in Manitoba the way they are in some more-populated regions of Canada.
“Because we don’t have the numbers such as in Toronto or Quebec, to really be confident in making projections,” she said.
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“We don’t want to scare people, we want to focus on what we need to do and why it’s working.”
Dr. Brent Roussin, the province’s chief public health official, said Tuesday that Manitoba is six weeks behind some other jurisdictions when it comes to coronavirus cases — so even if there’s talk of lifting restrictions elsewhere, it doesn’t necessarily mean Manitoba should follow suit.

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“Our low numbers should not indicate to you that our risk is lower,” said Roussin.
“To continue our progress, we need to continue these social distancing strategies.”
Carr said she understands Manitobans’ frustrations as the weather gets nicer, and the desire to have things get back to normal as soon as possible — but we need to follow the advice of health officials.
“I do understand frustration, but we need to work with Dr. Roussin and our premier,” she said. “We all need to work together and stay healthy, and there would be no reason to mislead.”
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There’s also the possibility of ‘silent spread,’ she said.
Carr said recent random testing in Iceland, for example, picked up on much higher rates of COVID-19 in people without symptoms.
“Fifty per cent of positive cases were actually totally asymptomatic, so that is something that has helped us globally and that we need to think about — there could actually be great possibility for spread in our population.”
Manitoba well-positioned to recover from COVID-19
Manitoba well-positioned to recover from COVID-19