Manitoba sees 35 new cases of coronavirus Sunday

Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba chief public health officer, and Lanette Siragusa, provincial lead, health system integration, quality/chief nursing officer for Shared Health, speak during the province's latest COVID-19 update at the Manitoba legislature in Winnipeg Thursday, March 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

The province’s top doctor confirmed 35 new cases of COVID-19 in Manitoba Sunday.

Dr. Brent Roussin held the rare Sunday press conference amid a recent spike in COVID-19 cases in Manitoba, including 16 new infections on Saturday.

While many of Sunday’s cases appear linked to known clusters in the Southern Health health region and the city of Brandon or are close contacts of a previously announced case, the province said in its COVID-19 update, there may be a small number of cases of unknown acquisition in those areas.

However, public health officials are still investigating where those cases were contracted.

A total of 542 people have contracted the novel coronavirus in Manitoba. Six people are in hospital — three of them in intensive care. Of the 542 infections, 182 cases are still active, while 352 people have recovered. Eight people have died.

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The latest data show 20 of the new cases are in the Prairie Mountain Health region, 10 are in the Southern Health, four are in the Winnipeg health region and one is in the Interlake-Eastern health region.

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The current five-day COVID-19 test positivity rate is 1.45 per cent.

Many of the recent cases, including the majority of Saturday’s new infections, are connected to a cluster in Brandon — as of Friday, 34 people have been infected in the city.

Roussin could not provide the exact number of cases linked to the Brandon cluster, but said it is approaching 40 or may have exceeded it.

Those cases are all linked to one person who returned to Brandon from eastern Canada and did not properly self isolate.

The western Manitoba city’s Maple Leaf Foods plant has seen at least 10 workers infected with the virus, but Roussin and the company say the employees were not infected at work.

Seven of the new cases are workers at a business in Brandon, but Roussin would not expand when asked which business.

However, the union that represents workers at the pork plant, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 832, said eight more employees have tested positive for COVID-19 — bringing the total to 18.

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A McDonald’s restaurant in Brandon closed its doors Saturday after an employee tested positive for the virus — the employee had last worked at the 2626 Victoria Avenue location on Friday from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., McDonald’s Canada said in a statement.

Another restaurant also closed Sunday after a Marino’s Pizza employee was exposed to a person who has since tested positive, but the restaurant employee does not have the virus.

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