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Manitoba health officials report 21 new coronavirus cases Monday, another case at Winnipeg school

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Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, raised concerns about what he said was “stigmatizing behaviour” after health officials provided details about a student at a Winnipeg high school that contracted COVID-19. Roussin said “pressure” was put “on an individual” through social media after the diagnosis was made public.

Manitoba is reporting 21 new COVID-19 cases as of Monday, including another case at a Winnipeg school.

Health Minister Cameron Friesen and Manitoba’s chief public officer of health, Dr. Brent Roussin announced the latest cases and warned of a possible exposure at Beaverlodge School at a Monday press conference.

Read more: Coronavirus: A look ahead for pandemic in Manitoba

The case at the school is the fifth reported at a Manitoba school since classes resumed last week, but Roussin said the fact all cases have so far been asymptomatic shows the screening processes meant to keep sick staff and students away from schools are working.

“What we have to do is have these measures in place to protect against the transmission within schools, which, you know, it certainly can happen, but all these efforts are in place to prevent that,” he said.

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“In these cases here … each and every case was in an asymptomatic person, which means that our screening is working and we’re not having symptomatic people back there and most of those cases we’re not even identifying close contacts that need to self-isolate.

“So I think that is the key, that we can’t let our guard down — we’re going to see cases — and we just have to make sure that we have all the fundamentals in place so we’re not going to see huge numbers of contacts.”

Read more: Manitoba government warning possible COVID-19 exposures at 2 Winnipeg schools

Roussin said the case at Beaverlodge School at 6691 Rannock Ave. saw an asymptomatic individual attend the site in both the morning and afternoon on Sept. 10. He said the individual followed all public health measures in place at the school and didn’t acquire the virus at the school.

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The school community and cohort have been notified, Roussin said, and additional cleaning of high-touch areas is being undertaken.

Any close contacts connected to the case have been advised to self-isolate, and Roussin said the school is not being elevated on the province’s four-tier pandemic response system because of the limited number of contacts identified.

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The province has also warned about possible COVID-19 exposures at several other schools after the first week back to class across the province.

Possible exposures have been reported by the province at Churchill High School, Daniel McIntyre Collegiate Institute and John Pritchard School in Winnipeg, as well as Ecole New Era School in Brandon.

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Read more: Winnipeg schools ready for start of strangest school year in recent memory

The province has said none of the cases at the schools appears to have been acquired within the schools, and the risk is deemed low in each case because physical distancing was maintained and the cases were all wearing masks.

While health officials had originally planned to make information on the grade, classroom and cohort publicly available when cases were identified at schools, Roussin says there was a lot of stigma after those details were released for the first case at a school, so fewer details will now be released.

He said public health officials will name the school but cohort information will not be made public going forward.

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Students returned to school across Manitoba starting Sept. 8.

Meanwhile, three people have tested positive for COVID-19 in two neighbouring Interlake Indigenous communities — the first cases in Manitoba First Nations since the beginning of the pandemic.

Read more: Staff at Churchill High School assure students it’s safe to be in school after COVID-19 case

A probable positive COVID-19 case was detected on Fisher River Cree Nation, while in nearby Peguis First Nation two probable COVID-19 cases were identified Friday.

Previously, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs said that all First Nations cases in the province were off-reserve.

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Both communities say the positive tests have been forwarded to the provincial public health laboratory for confirmation.

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Roussin confirmed three cases have been identified on Manitoba First Nations as of  Monday, but identify the communities.

“I want to be careful because we’ve agreed with our First Nations partners that they would be announcing those cases,” he said.

The 21 new cases reported across the province Monday bring the total number of lab-confirmed cases reported in Manitoba to 1,449. There were 257 active cases reported as of Monday and 16 people have died from the virus since March.

Read more: Fisher River, Peguis tests show first probable COVID-19 cases on Manitoba First Nations

The latest cases include one person from the Interlake-Eastern health region, three in the Southern Health region, and 17 in Winnipeg.

According to provincial data 12 people are in hospital with COVID-19, including three who are in intensive care.

–With files from The Canadian Press

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Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

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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.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.