374 cases, 2 more deaths and COVID-19 outbreak declared at Keeyask

Click to play video 'COVID-19 and the flu' COVID-19 and the flu
Drastically rising COVID-19 numbers in Manitoba come with flu season around the corner. Marney Blunt reports – Nov 4, 2020

Manitoba health officials say there have been two more deaths, 374 cases and a COVID-19 outbreak declared at the Keeyask Generating Station.

Dr. Brent Roussin, the province’s chief public health officer, and Lanette Siragusa, Shared Health’s Chief Nursing Officer, made the announcement Wednesday.

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The uptick in cases is a blow after Tuesday’s numbers.

The province announced 103 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, with 61 of those in Winnipeg. On Monday, case numbers were reported at 241. The province also registered five new deaths, bringing the total to 80.

A total of 87 deaths have now been registered, said Roussin, with 21 deaths in the last week alone.

“We had a total of 21 deaths related to the flu all last year,” he said, adding the flu virus is “on its way to Manitoba.”

Roussin encouraged all Manitobans older than six months to get the flu shot.

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“This is not the flu, this is multiple times more deadly than the flu and if we ignore this our health care system will not be able to keep up with demand.”

Read more: 103 cases, 5 more coronavirus deaths in Manitoba

Roussin urged people to self-isolate if anyone in their household has symptoms of COVID-19 until test results come back negative.

“That means everyone, even in your household,” said Roussin, noting it may not be possible for every family, but they should try.

“If you become a case, you should have zero contacts … because you’ve been self-isolating.”

“We know it’s difficult. We hear you,” said Roussin.

The advice to self-isolate applies to the Winnipeg metro region, said Roussin, but added all Manitobans should be taking this advice.

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Roussin also declared an outbreak at Keeyask Generating Station.

Read more: Manitoba Hydro reports more coronavirus cases at Keeyask Generating Station

“Public Health, along with Workplace Safety and Health continue to work closely at the site,” said Roussin.

Isolation periods for workers, cases and contacts have all been implemented, he added, and Public Health will provide an update later this week.

Manitoba Hydro said later in the day Wednesday 23 workers at its Keeyask Generating Station have tested positive for COVID-19 and tests for another eight have been deemed “not clear.”

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There are currently 55 workers isolating in special dorms at the Keeyask site, Hydro said.

Hydro said it will be positing daily updates on the ongoing outbreak on their website.

The latest cases come as the Crown corporation said Monday it has completed testing the construction site’s entire workforce — 764 employees — an endeavour started following the first confirmed positive test of a worker at the site Oct. 25.

An outbreak was again declared at Actionmarguerite personal care home in St. Boniface.

Behind the scenes, things have ramped up at hospitals, said Siragusa.

“I can tell you that the work has taken on a new intensity over the last couple of weeks,” she said.

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More information will be shared with the media Friday, after information sessions with doctors and health care workers who are “rightfully asking” about more space and equipment.

As of Wednesday morning, ICU capacity was at 90 per cent, she said.

New testing sites

The province announced two new COVID-19 testing sites that will open this week, including a drive-thru location at 1 Research Road at the University of Manitoba’s SmartPark, and a drive-thru location at 485 George Ave. in Winkler.

The U of M site will open at 7 a.m. on Sunday, and the Winkler site will open Thursday at noon.

“The new site in Winkler … will operate Tuesdays and Thursdays from noon to 8 p.m., and Mondays, Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.,” said the province.

“Initially, this site will be on a first-come, first-serve basis and will have capacity for up to 120 tests per day.”

On Tuesday, Premier Brian Pallister asked Manitobans to volunteer to help out at COVID-19 test sites through the HelpNextDoorMB website.

We have 19 test sites and more coming, and I need Manitobans to join with our frontline civil servants and others who are already helping in many, many ways in this pandemic to have their backs.”

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On Monday, Pallister said the province is considering a curfew to help cut late-night activities that are contributing to the spread of the disease.

Also on Monday, Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief provincial health officer, said people must now stay home and isolate if they live with anyone who has symptoms, until a COVID-19 test comes back negative.