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She has coronavirus, her roommate doesn’t. How two Winnipeggers are avoiding each other at home

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A Winnipeg woman with COVID-19 is speaking out with a real-life warning she hopes others will take seriously. She is at home isolating in an apartment, trying to keep the virus away from her roommate. Joe Scarpelli reports.

A Winnipeg woman with COVID-19 is trying to keep the virus away from her roommate, while the two are advocating for more mask-wearing.

For Elena, all it took was going for ice cream with a close friend.

“We were wearing masks when we got our ice cream, but then we went back to his car and took our masks off and automatically I was like, ‘Well he’s my friend, I trust him and I care about him,'” Elena said.

Elena, 22, who now has COVID-19, told Global News that she’s had to get creative at home because while she has the disease caused by the coronavirus, her roommate does not. Global News has agreed to not use Elena’s last name.

“The hardest thing for me, actually, is staying away from her,” she said. “In close quarters it’s a little challenging, but we’re making it work.”

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Read more: Coronavirus: Younger demographics lead infections in Manitoba, Canada

Elena’s roommate, Mercedes Wyenberg, so far has no symptoms while in quarantine.

The pair follow strict protocols at home, including wearing masks, sanitizing often and eating in their bedrooms.

When one cooks food, the other waits in another area of their two-bedroom apartment.

“It’s really hard, I’d say, not being together in the living room and hanging out and talking,” Wyenberg said.

“We’ll talk through doors or we’ll kind of yell across the rooms.”

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Canada’s top doctor urges youth to share ideas on how to limit COVID-19 transmission' Coronavirus: Canada’s top doctor urges youth to share ideas on how to limit COVID-19 transmission
Coronavirus: Canada’s top doctor urges youth to share ideas on how to limit COVID-19 transmission

Both women are into fitness and take turns working out in the living room.

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“I tend to workout more around the middle of the day and she likes to workout in the evening,” Wyenberg said.

“We’ll open the windows when the other person is working out.”

Manitoba’s coronavirus cases have been steadily increasing since August and on Friday, the province surpassed Ontario and Quebec with more active cases per capita.

Young people in the 20-29 age group make up most of the province’s active cases.

Read more: Reality check: No, the WHO didn’t reverse its position on coronavirus lockdowns

Wyenberg, a personal trainer, was hit hard after the shutdown last spring. She’s now sending her clients to other trainers until she’s allowed out.

Her latest coronavirus test, which she took seven days after being in quarantine on Wednesday, came back negative.

If Wyenberg stays healthy, she’s hoping to be back at work in a week and once again in the same room as Elena.

“Does it suck? Sure. But there are way worse things in life,” she said.

Elena admits she let her guard down and is calling on Manitobans to always wear a facemask when out in public, even when they’re around family and friends.

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Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Actor, ‘certified young person’ Paul Rudd urges younger generations to wear masks in comedic PSA' Coronavirus: Actor, ‘certified young person’ Paul Rudd urges younger generations to wear masks in comedic PSA
Coronavirus: Actor, ‘certified young person’ Paul Rudd urges younger generations to wear masks in comedic PSA

“We automatically assume that our friends and family are safe and that’s not the case,” she said. “You have no idea who your family’s circle is and you have no idea who your friend’s circle is.”

Wyenberg and Elena say they’ve noticed young people on social media not taking the pandemic seriously and they hope attitudes change.

“You think that you’re probably going to beat it, that doesn’t mean the next person you give it to (is going to),” Elena said.