Manitoba saw a significant jump in COVID-19 cases Thursday, with health officials reporting 30 new cases of the virus.
The province says the new cases include 18 people in the Prairie Mountain Health region, 11 in southern Manitoba, and one new case in Winnipeg.
The new cases bring the total number of known lab-confirmed and probable cases reported in Manitoba since March to 474 and come after just two new cases were reported Wednesday.
Manitoba’s chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, said the cases in the Prairie Mountain Health region are linked to a cluster cases in Brandon and added he expects to see further cases reported in western Manitoba city from the cluster.
Roussin said 25 of the 30 new cases have been linked to other positive tests. He said investigations are ongoing and additional information will be provided as needed to inform people of any public health risks.
The news comes the same day as Global News confirmed three more employees at the Maple Leaf hog processing plant in Brandon tested positive for the virus, bringing the total number of employees from the plant ill with COVID-19 to four.
The union representing workers at the plant has called for it to close until at least Monday, but says Maple Leaf has so far not agreed to the idea.
Roussin said there was no indication of workplace spread at Maple Leaf.
He said the Brandon cluster is linked to a person who travelled from Eastern Canada and didn’t self isolate “perfectly” upon arrival in Manitoba.
In an email to The Canadian Press the company said all employees are given a daily health screening and have their temperatures monitored. Employees are also supplied personal protective equipment and are required to social distance.
“We will continue to operate our Brandon plant as long as we believe we can provide an environment that will protect the safety of our people while working,” the email from Maple Leaf said.
Global News also learned Thursday a daycare in St. Francois Xavier, Man., is temporarily shutting down after a child who attends the centre reportedly also tested positive for the coronavirus.
Roussin said he couldn’t confirm the case reported at the daycare.
“I don’t have details on that,” he said at a press conference Thursday afternoon.
“Public health will do its usual investigation, look into where contact could have occurred, if it is in a school or in a daycare. We’re going to contact everyone who could be, could have contacted and advise accordingly.”
Manitoba had gone nearly half the month of July without reporting a single new case of the virus. But that streak ended July 14 when five new cases were identified. Since then 144 new cases have been reported in Manitoba, including a one-day jump of 18 on Sunday.
Roussin said the recent increase in cases isn’t enough for him to consider rolling back the province’s loosened public health restrictions.
“It’s certainly a reminder to Manitobans that this virus is here — if we let our guards down, we can certainly see our numbers climb,” he said Thursday.
“But as far as right now we want to stick with the fundamentals, we don’t want to impose significant restrictions — because we think if we can stick with those fundamentals we can live with this virus rather than shut things down.”
The highest one-day jump in cases the province has seen since the virus arrived in March was 40, recorded on April 2.
As of Thursday Health officials said 10 people are currently in hospital with the virus, including five in intensive care.
They said there are 118 known active cases and 384 people have recovered from the virus. Eight Manitobans have died.
Health officials also warned of a potential exposure to COVID-19 for passengers on a plane that arrived in Winnipeg July 29.
They say passengers in rows 16-22 on Air Canada flight AC 8595 from Montreal to Winnipeg should self-isolate for 14-days following the flight and monitor for symptoms. Passengers on the flight, but not in the affected seats, should self-monitor for symptoms and self-isolate if they develop.
The province says 564 lab tests for COVID-19 were done Wednesday, bringing the total number of tests completed in Manitoba since early February to 95,547.
The new cases bring the province’s test positivity rate to 0.90 per cent.
–With files from The Canadian Press
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
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. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.
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