Manitoba saw a record-setting number of new COVID-19 cases Monday.
According to the province’s online COVID-19 dashboard, Manitoba had 546 new cases Monday and seven additional deaths.
The province’s previous record for most cases reported in a day was set just eight days ago, when 494 new cases were announced Nov. 15.
While a release from the government originally said there were 543 new cases, the province later clarified there were 546 new cases were reported Monday, but three cases were “removed due to error”, leaving a net total of 543 cases.
Manitoba’s chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin says there are some positive signs, despite the record caseload.
He says the average number of contacts per case is dropping, which could slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. He said three weeks ago health officials were seeing an average of about seven contacts per case, but that has gradually been reduced to as low as two contacts per case now.
The change follows a series of increasingly tight restrictions that were imposed on public gatherings and store openings.
“But for the restrictions, we could have been seeing much more numbers, possibly,” Roussin said.
“At this point the contacts per case does appear to be trending in the right direction and it’s expected that that’s going to translate into fewer cases in the next week or 10 days.”
The latest deaths include:
- a woman in her 90s from the Winnipeg health region, linked to the Maples Long-Term Care Home outbreak;
- a woman in her 70s from the Winnipeg health region, linked to the Holy Family Personal Care Home outbreak;
- a man in his 80s from the Southern Health–Santé Sud health region, linked to the Menno Home outbreak;
- a woman in her 80s from the Winnipeg health region;
- a man in his 60s from the Winnipeg health region;
- a woman in her 80s from the Winnipeg health region; and
- a man in his 70s from the Southern Health–Santé Sud health region.
The new cases include 368 in the Winnipeg Health region, 21 in the Interlake-Eastern Health region, 27 in the Northern Health region, 12 in the Prairie Mountain Health region, and 118 from the Southern Health region.
Over the weekend the province announced 630 new cases and 22 additional deaths from the coronavirus.
The new cases bring Manitoba’s total number of lab-confirmed cases recorded since March to 14,087. In all 236 Manitobans with COVID-19 have died.
Provincial data shows there were 8,498 known active cases as of Monday.
The province reached another grim record Monday, with an all-time high 296 people in hospital with 52 people in intensive care.
“These case numbers continue to put additional pressure on our system and we really do need to do everything we can to get these numbers down,” said Manitoba’s chief nursing officer, Lanette Siragusa.
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Siragusa said as of early Monday, 96 of the province’s 103 ICU beds are in use. She said 43 of the 79 patients currently on a ventilator are COVID-19 patients.
With the surging hospitalization numbers, Siragusa said 901 non-urgent or elective surgeries in the past month to free up staff and beds.
Over the past week, Siragusa said 17 health-care workers have tested positive for COVID-19. Thirteen of those workers are from the Winnipeg health region, three are from Southern Health, one is from Prairie Mountain, she added.
Since the start of the pandemic, Siragusa said 552 health-care workers or first-responders have tested positive.
Health officials also added two outbreaks to the growing list of personal care homes and health facilities currently facing outbreaks across the province.
Outbreaks have now been declared at the Flin Flon Personal Care Home in Flin Flon and the Charleswood Care Centre in Winnipeg. Both facilities move to red on the province’s pandemic response system.
The province said Selkirk’s testing location will move to the old hospital site at 100 Easton Dr. on Wednesday, Nov. 25. The site will provide walk-in services, and will operate from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Saturday. Appointments can be made by phone or online.
As of Monday Manitoba’s five-day COVID-19 test positivity rate is 14 per cent provincially and 13.8 per cent in Winnipeg.
Manitoba has been reporting daily case counts in the triple digits every day for more than a month. In the last 23 days the province has reported 161 deaths.
Health officials brought in strict public health measures last week that limit store openings and public gatherings in an attempt to curb the rising cases that continue to put a strain on the province’s health-care system. Retailers have also been forced to stop selling non-essential items in-store.
Over the weekend health officials added newspapers and gift cards to the list of essential items stores are allowed to sell under strict public health restrictions.
While Roussin said people seem to have started taking the no-socializing orders more seriously, not everyone appeared to get the message, however.
Roussin said he had received reports of a number of in-person religious gatherings in violation of the latest public health orders.
RCMP said they went to a church outside of Steinbach, southeast of Winnipeg, on Sunday morning when a service appeared to be underway.
“It is believed there were well over 100 people inside the church,” spokeswoman Cpl. Julie Courchaine said in an email.
“Officers attended and spoke with a church representative. No fines have been issued as of yet; however, this is currently still under investigation and RCMP are working with (the provincial Health Department) on the matter.”
The Steinbach region has been the province’s COVID-19 hot spot recently. The rate of people testing positive there last week hit 40 per cent.
Roussin reiterated the same calls he’s been making for weeks, asking Manitobans to stay home whenever possible to help stop the virus from spreading.
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“Again, the message right now, at this critical point, is to stay home,” he said Monday.
“We have these critical restrictions in place for a reason — we’re seeing these numbers that we cannot sustain in our health-care system — we’re seeing that strain, we’re hearing from front-line health-care providers … and so we need to bring these numbers down and we need to act now.”
–With files from 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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