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Manitoba automates some coronavirus contact tracing, 12 deaths reported Tuesday

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The Manitoba government says it’s expanding COVID-19 case and contact tracing as health officials announced hundreds of new cases and the deaths of twelve more Manitobans from the virus Tuesday.

Read more: Record-setting new coronavirus cases reported in Manitoba Monday

The 476 new cases identified Tuesday bring Manitoba’s total cases to 14,558 and the number of Manitobans with COVID-19 who have died since March rises to 248.

On Monday Manitoba reported its highest-yet one-day total of new cases of novel coronavirus, with 546 cases identified.

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Manitoba’s chief public officer of health said Tuesday the province is expanding case and contact monitoring through an outbound, automated calling system.

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Dr. Brent Roussin says the new system will launch in the coming days and will first be used to determine if active cases can be marked  as recovered. In a second phase the system will be used to contact cases and their related contacts, he added.

“Individuals will continue to receive calls from public health officials, however the combined automated and the current monitoring process will be more efficient and effective in redirecting resources,” Roussin said, adding those being reached by the system will be able to request a callback from a public health nurse with the push of a button.

“The automated call will provide the quickest, most efficient way to get Manitobans information they need and make informed decisions from the proper public health direction.”

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He said the system will ask questions and provide answers about testing, self-isolation, and other public health information.

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With the new cases, Manitoba’s  five-day test positivity rate was at 14.2 per cent Tuesday and health officials say there are currently 8,677 active cases.

The cases come from across the province and include 257 from the Winnipeg Health region, 111 in the Southern Health region, 33 from the Prairie Mountain Health region, 38 in the Northern Health region, and 37 identified in the Interlake-Eastern Health region.

More than half of the new deaths reported Tuesday are linked to outbreaks at personal care homes or health facilities.

According to provincial data, Manitoba’s latest victims include:

  • a man in his 60s from the Winnipeg health region and linked to the outbreak at St. Boniface Hospital, Unit E6;
  • a man in his 60s from the Winnipeg health region and linked to the outbreak at Health Science Centre unit A4;
  • a woman in her 60s from the Winnipeg health region and linked to the outbreak at St. Norbert personal care home;
  • a woman in her 60s from the Winnipeg health region;
  • a man in his 70s from Southern Heath–Santé Sud health region;
  • a woman in her 70s from the Northern health region;
  • a man in his 70s from the Southern Heath–Santé Sud health region;
  • a man in his 80s from the Southern Heath–Santé Sud health region and linked to the outbreak at the Villa Youville personal care home;
  • a man in his 80s from the Southern Heath–Santé Sud health region and linked to the outbreak at Oakview Manor;
  • a man in his 80s from the Winnipeg health region and linked to the outbreak at Parkview Place;
  • a man in his 90s from the Prairie Mountain Health region and linked to the outbreak at the Fairview Personal Care Home; and
  • a woman in her 90s from the Southern Heath–Santé Sud health region and linked to the outbreak at the Rest Haven Nursing Home.

Meanwhile outbreaks have been declared over at Patient Care Units E5 and E6 at the St. Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg, but a new outbreak has been declared at Northern Lights Manor in Flin Flon.

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Roussin said 292 people are in hospital with COVID-19 as of Tuesday — down four from Monday — with 47 people in intensive care, a drop of five since Monday.

Manitoba has been reporting daily case counts in the triple digits and multiple deaths every day for more than a month.

Read more: Manitoba RCMP investigating Steinbach-area church after alleged public health violation

Roussin has been pleading with Manitobans to stay home unless they have to leave to pick up essential items for weeks, warning the rising caseload is putting too much strain on the province’s health-care system.

“Our health-care system can’t sustain levels of cases like this for much longer,” he warned Tuesday.

“We can’t have these number of cases, these number of deaths that we report be our norm — we have to act now to bring down the rates of transmission of this virus.”

As of Monday 96 of Manitoba’s 103 ICU beds were in use.

Health officials brought in strict measures last week that limit store openings and public gatherings in an attempt to curb the rising cases. Retailers have also been forced to stop selling non-essential items in-store.

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The province has also expanded enforcement of public health orders, allowing municipal bylaw officers to levy fines, and recently hiring a private security firm to bolster enforcement efforts.

Earlier in the day Tuesday the province said they had issued nearly 100 tickets last week to people and businesses flouting public health rules. This includes nine $5,000 tickets to business, 55 $1,296 tickets to individuals, and 28 $298 tickets for not wearing a mask in public.

Read more: Total of 95 tickets issued by province in Manitoba, including to person at church, and 16 at rally

Premier Brian Pallister said a total of $126,082 in fines were issued last week, up from $49,992 the week before.

A total of 388 warnings and 307 tickets have been issued since April, bringing in more than $390,000 in fines, according to provincial data.

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–With files from Elisha Dacey

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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