Manitoba health officials reported two more deaths and 80 new cases of COVID-19 Monday.
Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief public officer of health, said a woman in her 80s and a man in his 70s, both from Winnipeg, are the virus’ latest victims.
Roussin said the deaths — Manitoba’s 41st and 42nd reported since March — are linked to an outbreak at Heritage Lodge Long Term Care Home, where 15 cases remain active, including 14 residents.
An outbreak at Parkview Place in Winnipeg has risen to 84 cases, including 73 residents, as of Monday, Roussin added.
Monday’s new cases include 51 in the Winnipeg health region, 14 in the Southern Health region, six in the Prairie Mountain Health region, five in the Northern health region, and four in the Interlake-Eastern health region.
They bring Manitoba’s current five-day COVID-19 test positivity rate to 4.2 per cent and the province’s total number of cases reported since March to 3,382.
Roussin also confirmed reports of two cases linked to St. Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg over the weekend, telling media he isn’t aware of any further cases.
“We’ll get updates on that regularly,” he said.
“But as soon as those cases were identified then the infection prevention and control measures are added, measures are put into place, to try to limit further spread.”
The new cases come after health officials announced increased restrictions in the greater Winnipeg area due to rising novel coronavirus numbers.
Starting Monday, and lasting for at least two weeks, gatherings will be limited to five people. That will also be the maximum allowed to sit together at a restaurant table.
Beverage rooms, bingo halls and casinos will have to close, while restaurants, lounges, retail stores, museums and libraries will be limited to half capacity.
On Monday Roussin said the aim is to ease the restrictions after two weeks if case numbers come down.
“We want to make it clear, that on these orders, we have these set that they must be reviewed again within two weeks,” he said.
“It’s of course going to entirely depend on the numbers we see — if we see improvement, if we see the transmission of the virus decreasing, if we don’t see strains on our healthcare system — then it’s quite possible we can rollback some of these restrictions.”
The Winnipeg region, which includes the city and surrounding communities, was already under tighter rules than the rest of the province after a case surge in late summer. Masks have been mandatory indoors, gatherings were limited to 10, and bars and restaurants had to stop selling liquor at 10 p.m.
Manitoba posted record numbers of daily new cases last week, although the numbers fell sharply starting Friday and continued the downward trend over the weekend. The province also saw deaths reported almost every day last week and two other deaths were reported Sunday.
Health officials reported 75 new cases Friday, 85 on Saturday and 44 on Sunday.
At one point in the summer, Manitoba had just one known active case of COVID-19.
Provincial data showed there were 1,742 active cases — including 1,484 in Winnipeg — as of Monday. Roussin said Monday there are currently 28 people in hospital with six in intensive care.
Numbers from the province show 1,677 tests for COVID-19 were completed Sunday, bringing the total number of lab tests completed since early February to 226,594.
Last week the province announced it would be partnering with the Canadian Red Cross to provide additional contract tracing services and on Monday Manitoba’s health minister said the province is looking at increasing COVID-19 testing by making it available at community medical clinics.
Cameron Friesen said Manitoba has expanded its testing capacity in recent weeks with new sites in Winnipeg and Brandon, but is working with Doctors Manitoba to add community doctors’ offices to the growing list of testing locations.
Roussin said the first attempt at providing dedicated coronavirus testing in a clinic will be at Dakota Medical Centre in Winnipeg, which the province said will begin in “the coming days,” with more information to be made available soon.
—With files from The Canadian Press and Sam Thompson
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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