Manitoba reported fewer than 200 new cases of novel coronavirus for the second-straight day Tuesday, while health officials said another five people have died.
At the province’s only live COVID-19 media briefing planned for the week, Dr. Jazz Atwal, Manitoba’s acting deputy chief provincial public health officer said 133 new infections of the virus had been identified across the province as of Tuesday morning.
The latest cases come after Manitoba reported its lowest daily case count in several weeks — 107 new infections — Monday.
While Atwal acknowledged the drop in daily cases is encouraging, he said hospitalization rates remain too high in Manitoba.
“We are headed in a good direction, but we still have a long way to go,” he said, pointing out that testing numbers have also dropped over the holidays.
Provincial data shows 1,371 people were tested for COVID-19 Monday and the current five-day COVID-19 test positivity rate was 12.4 per cent provincially and 12.1 per cent in Winnipeg as of Tuesday morning.
Read more: Remembering Manitobans lost to COVID-19
“One-hundred and thirty-three cases and five deaths does not mean we can be careless with our actions,” Atwal said.
“It means that our hard work is starting to pay off. It means limiting our contacts and working from home is making a difference — it means we need to keep doing what we are doing.”
In particular, Atwal said people shouldn’t gather for New Year’s Eve parties.
“Don’t celebrations bring risk or harm to anyone else,” he said.
“Let’s start the New Year off with continued lower numbers.
“Let’s have a good start to 2021.”
Manitoba has been under strict public health orders since mid-November, which include a ban on most social gatherings in private homes and a shutdown of non-essential stores. The current restrictions are set to expire Jan. 8.
Atwal said it is too soon to say whether or not restrictions will be loosened.
The latest deaths bring the total number of COVID-19 victims in Manitoba to 659 and include:
- a woman in her 70s from the Winnipeg health region;
- a woman in her 80s from the Winnipeg health region, linked to the outbreak at the Holy Family Home;
- man in his 80s from the Winnipeg health region, linked to the outbreak at Oakview Extended Care Facility;
- a woman in her 90s from the Southern Health–Santé Sud health region, linked to the outbreak at the Portage District General Hospital; and
- a woman in her 90s from the Winnipeg health region and linked to the outbreak at the Convalescent Home.
The new infections reported Tuesday include 97 cases in the Winnipeg Health region, 22 cases in the Southern Health region, five cases in the Prairie Mountain Health region, three cases in the Northern Health region, and six cases in the Interlake-Eastern Health region.
Since March the Manitoba has recorded 24,385 lab-confirmed cases of the virus and 4,424 remain active as of Tuesday, the province says.
Provincial data provided Tuesday shows there are 246 people in hospital with active cases of COVID-19, as well as 92 people in hospital with COVID-19 who are no longer infectious but continue to require care, for a total of 338 hospitalizations.
There are 32 people in intensive care units with active COVID-19 as well as four people with COVID-19 who are no longer infectious but continue to require critical care for a total of 36 ICU patients, the province said Tuesday.
Atwal said a new outbreaks have been declared at the Health Science Centre unit GA4 and Riverview Health Centre, both in Winnipeg. A previously declared outbreak at Tuxedo Villa Extendicare in Winnipeg has ended, he added.
Tuesday’s media briefing is the first held since Dec. 23. The press conferences, normally held Monday, Wednesday and Friday, have been rescheduled over the holidays and updates on the latest cases and deaths from the coronavirus have come only through online updates.
The province says online updates on COVID-19 will be provided Wednesday and Thursday, and no updates will be given Jan. 1, 2021. An online update Jan. 2 will include numbers from the previous day.
Health officials are scheduled to hold their regular Monday, Wednesday and Friday press conferences again starting Jan. 4.
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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