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Over 300 Manitobans in hospital with coronavirus, 9 new deaths reported Wednesday

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There are calls for rapid testing to be deployed in the city's long-term care facilities. Joe Scarpelli reports from one of the hardest hit homes – Nov 25, 2020

Manitoba for the first time has more than 300 people in hospital with COVID-19 as health officials reported 349 new cases of the virus and nine additional deaths Wednesday.

The province’s COVID-19 death toll fell by one on Wednesday, however, as Manitoba’s chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin said a previously announced death — a man in his 20s from Winnipeg — has been removed from the list.

Read more: Manitoba automates some coronavirus contact tracing, 12 deaths reported Tuesday

Roussin said the man is still alive and his death, announced Friday, had been mistakenly recorded as a result of a “data entry error.”

“I can confirm … this individual is a case and is currently in isolation,” Roussin said at a Wednesday afternoon press conference.

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Coronavirus: Manitoba reports 12 additional COVID-19 deaths, 476 new cases – Nov 24, 2020

“Dealing with data entry, and an error was made in this case, and our processes were able to pick up that mistake and correct that today.

“Certainly apologize for any confusion that that had caused.”

The change means 256 Manitobans with COVID-19 are reported to have died since March, according to provincial data.

The latest reported deaths include:

  • a man in his 40s from the Winnipeg health region;
  •  a woman in her 50s from the Southern Health–Santé Sud health region;
  • a man in his 60s from the Winnipeg health region;
  • a woman in her 70s from the Winnipeg health region and linked to the outbreak at the St. Norbert Personal Care Home; 
  • a woman in her 80s from the Winnipeg health region;
  • a man in his 80s from the Southern Health–Santé Sud health region
  • a man in his 80s from the Southern Health–Santé Sud health region and linked to the outbreak at the Buhler Active Living Centre;
  • a woman in her 90s from Southern Health–Santé Sud health region and linked to the outbreak at the Rest Haven Nursing Home;  and
  • a woman in her 90s from the Winnipeg health region and linked to the outbreak at Saul and Claribel Simkin Centre.

Wednesday’s press conference comes as the province continues to struggle to get a handle on a rising caseload that has seen hundreds of new infections and multiple deaths reported on a daily basis for weeks.

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Health officials reported a five-day test positivity rate of 14 per cent across the province and in Winnipeg as of Wednesday.

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Health care workers exhausted – Nov 25, 2020

Read more: Yes, many COVID-19 patients have underlying conditions. But that shouldn’t be the focus: Dr. Roussin

The new cases identified Wednesday come from across the province and include 213 cases in the Winnipeg Health region, 73 cases in the Southern Health region, 11 cases in the Prairie Mountain Health region, 30 cases in the Northern Health region, and 22 cases in the Interlake-Eastern Health region.

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More than 1,300 new cases and 28 deaths have been reported in the last two days alone, including a record-setting 546 new coronavirus cases reported Monday.

The cases continue to put a strain on the province’s health-care system Roussin said Wednesday, as a record-setting 303 Manitobans were reported to be in hospital with 50 in intensive care.

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Manitoba’s chief nursing officer, Lanette Siragusa, said hospitalizations are increasing at an unsustainable rate, noting the province had 153 people in hospital 20 days ago and the number of people in ICU with virus has tripled over that time.

She said there are currently 105 critical beds occupied, and the province’s ICUs are operating at 146 per cent above normal capacity.

Read more: Manitoba mood disorder association takes youth-focused program online due to COVID-19

Siragusa says staff are very tired, emotionally and physically, and they are scared of what these high numbers are going to mean in the future.

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“This is a virus that affects people of all ages … we have lost far too many Manitobans,” she said.

Meanwhile health officials added new outbreaks Wednesday to the growing list of outbreaks at personal care home and health facilities across the province.

The province says outbreaks have been declared at the Woodhaven Manor in Steinbach and Lions Manor in Winnipeg. Both sites have been moved to critical, or red, on the province’s pandemic response system.

Read more: ‘My mom still had a lot of life to live’: Winnipeg nurse shares story of mother’s coronavirus death

The daily number of new cases has not dropped since the province enacted its latest round of restrictions nearly two weeks ago.

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Under the rules — scheduled to remain in place until at least Dec. 11 — retailers can only sell essential items in store and people are not allowed to have visitors in their homes, with some exceptions.

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Coronavirus: Manitoba health official says province is at a ‘critical juncture’ amid 2nd wave – Nov 20, 2020

But at press briefings this week, Roussin has said the virus’s rate of growth is starting to slow.

“A few weeks ago, our doubling time was at two weeks. As we updated it, we see that now about three weeks,” Roussin said Tuesday.

Read more: ‘My mom still had a lot of life to live’ — Winnipeg nurse shares story of mother’s coronavirus death

“If you plot out the cases per day on a graph, it’s much more flat now than it was.”

On Wednesday Roussin said he’s been disturbed to hear reports of Manitobans travelling outside of the province — places like Yorkton or Kenora — to go shopping. He reiterated calls he’s been making for weeks to stay home and cut out all non-essential travel.

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“The messaging behind our messaging is really clear — the purpose [behind] all these orders is to save Manitobans’ lives,” he said.

“Going around those orders puts Manitobans at risk.”

Read more: A list of potential coronavirus exposures in Manitoba for the past two weeks

Since COVID-19 arrived in Manitoba in March, the province has reported 14,907 cases of the virus.

As of Wednesday provincial data shows 8,758 cases remain active, although Roussin has said that number is likely inflated due to an ongoing backlog in case tracing.

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–With files from The Canadian Press and Global’s Brittany Greenslade.

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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For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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