Manitoba’s COVID-19 caseload continued its triple-digit daily climb Tuesday, with 384 new cases identified and five additional deaths reported.
The new cases bring Manitoba’s total number of reported cases to 8,878 and the province’s COVID-19 death toll too 114.
The province’s hospitalization rates also continued to swell Tuesday, with 207 people reported to be in hospital with 30 in ICU, according to provincial data.
The latest deaths include a man in his 70s from the Winnipeg health region, a woman in her 90s from the Winnipeg region connected to an outbreak at Victoria General Hospital, a woman in her 80s from Winnipeg linked to the outbreak at Maples Personal Care Home, a man in his 70s from the Southern Health region, and a woman in her 80s from Winnipeg linked to the Seine River Retirement Residence.
“These are unprecedented times,” Manitoba’s chief public officer of health, Dr. Brent Roussin said after announcing another day of multiple deaths and hundreds of new cases.
“This is a 100-year pandemic that we’re all trying to navigate through … it’s challenging for all Manitobans.”
The latest cases include 216 in the Winnipeg Health region, 83 from the Southern Health region, 18 in the Prairie Mountain health region, 41 in the Northern Health region, and 26 cases in the Interlake-Eastern health region.
The province’s five-day test positivity rate rose to 10.6 per cent Tuesday while Winnipeg’s rate rose to 10 per cent.
Provincial data shows 1,762 COVID-19 tests were completed Monday, bringing the total number of lab tests completed across Manitoba to 290,560.
Province-wide Level Red coming
The new list of cases and victims comes just hours after Roussin unveiled plans to put the entire province will move into Level Red or critical later this week.
Starting Thursday, non-essential retail outlets will be limited to curbside pickup and delivery, and churches will not have in-person gatherings.
Social gatherings with anyone other than household members will be forbidden, and restaurants, museums, theatres and recreational activities must close.
Schools will remain open as the province’s chief public health officer says officials are not seeing much transmission within schools.
There has been a surge of cases in Manitoba since a summer lull when, at one point in July, there was only one known active case.
Manitoba currently leads all other provinces in per-capita active cases.
At an earlier press conference Tuesday Roussin said the province-wide restrictions will remain in place for at least the next four weeks, but then said they’d be in place for at least the next two weeks at a second press conference later in the day.
At the second media briefing Roussin clarified that he would want to see the province’s test-positivity rate drop below 3 per cent, a dramatic decline in new case numbers, and a health care system no longer under strain before lifting the orders.
“I think we should plan for four weeks, but absolutely a minimum of two weeks,” he said.
Roussin said he knows the measures will be difficult for some, but stressed they’re needed to reduce pressure on the province’s health-care system.
“Our numbers have been going in the wrong direction for quite some time so we need to do whatever we can to reduce the numbers going forward,” Roussin said.
“We’re seeing that strain on our health-care system … this is a serious time, a critical juncture, that we have to take specific steps right now to reduce the amount of transmission of this virus.”
Premier Brian Pallister also announced a new program to help small businesses affected by the restrictions Tuesday.
Called the Manitoba Bridge Grant, it will provide $5,000 to small businesses before Christmas, and perhaps another $5,000 after the new year.
Climbing case counts, outbreaks
Over 2,000 new cases of COVID-19 have been identified in Manitoba over the last last week, just short of a quarter of all confirmed cases in Manitoba.
On Monday the province reported three more deaths as well as 365 new cases of the virus.
Manitoba’s chief nursing officer Lanette Siragusa said a health care worker connected to an outbreak at Victoria Hospital in Winnipeg had become the first in the province to die from COVID-19.
Three of Winnipeg’s hospitals currently have outbreaks, and outbreaks have been declared at 23 of the city’s 28 personal care homes.
On Tuesday the province said a new outbreak has been declared at Brightwater Senior Living of Tuxedo in Winnipeg, but an outbreak at Birds’ Hill School is over.
An ongoing deadly outbreak at Maples Personal Care Home has led to calls on the province to take over care — or even bring in the military — after city paramedics and multiple ambulances were called in to help deal with the critical health concerns of several residents at the Winnipeg facility Friday night.
Two who died that night were part of a 48-hour span that saw eight residents die. Paramedics provided hydration, transport to hospital and other services over the span of several hours and the city says it will continue to provide rapid response support for the facility for the rest of the week.
The owner of Maples Personal Care Home was forced to apologize Monday evening after officials from the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority said the company had provided “less than accurate” information on the number of staff that had been working at the facility Friday.
Revera initially said it had 13 of the normal 19 health care aides working the evening shift last Friday, but the actual number of health care aides who were on duty for much of that shift in the 200-bed facility was seven, the WRHA said Monday.
Roussin said the province does not plan to hold a live COVID-19 press conference on Wednesday because of Remembrance Day. Daily numbers will be made public in a press release, he said.
He also called on Manitobans not to gather to mark Remembrance Day this year, but mark the day at home instead.
“While this is an important day to remember and to send our respects and thank you to our veterans, we can’t gather in large groups — even on an important day like this,” he said.
–With files from Elisha Dacey and The Canadian Press
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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