Health officials reported four new cases of novel coronavirus Tuesday and say a second testing site is opening in Brandon where a recent uptick in positive tests has led to long lines at the city’s lone testing facility.
Of the new lab-confirmed and probable cases three are in the Prairie Mountain Health region — a woman in her 20s and two men in their 30s — and the fourth is a man in his 20s living in Winnipeg.
A release from the province Tuesday afternoon didn’t say if any of the new positive test results in the Prairie Mountain Health region are from Brandon, where a cluster of cases grew to 64 as of Monday.
The cases bring the province’s total of known cases identified since March to 562. Health officials say there are currently 194 active known cases, with five people in hospital, including three who are in intensive care with the virus.
Eight Manitobans have died from COVID-19 since March and 360 have recovered.
The province said many of the total cases are linked to the cluster in Brandon or are close contacts with previously announced cases, although some are of unknown acquisition.
Manitoba’s chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, said Monday the province is seeing indication of community transmission.
The province said a second temporary testing site will open at Brandon’s Keystone Centre starting Wednesday. The site will be open Monday to Thursday from 8:45 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 8:45 a.m. to 3:15 p.m., and Sunday from 8:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
The city’s drive-thru testing site at the Brandon Town Centre remains open Monday to Saturday from 8:45 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. (closed from 12 p.m. to 12:30 p.m. for lunch) according to the province’s website.
The outbreak of cases in Brandon include at least 23 employees at the Maple Leaf pork processing plant in the city.
A handful of restaurants in Brandon, including a Tim Hortons and a McDonald’s, have also closed after employees tested positive for the virus.
Roussin has previously said the cases in Brandon are all linked to one person who returned to the western Manitoba city from eastern Canada and did not properly self-isolate.
On Tuesday the province expanded a potential exposure warning previously issued for the Tim Hortons restaurant on the Trans-Canada Highway at 18th Street in Brandon. The original warning said exposures had been possible at the restaurant Aug. 1.
Health officials now say additional exposures were also possible Aug. 3 and Aug. 4.
Data from the province shows 1,059 tests for COVID-19 were completed across the province Monday, bringing the total number of tests completed since early February to 104,841.
The province’s current five-day COVID-19 test positivity rate was 1.27 per cent as of Tuesday, according to health officials.
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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