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Manitoba reports 261 new COVID-19 cases, premier rejects call for near lockdown

Premier of Manitoba Brian Pallister is rejecting a call for tougher public-health orders to fight a rising number of COVID-19 cases. THE CANADIAN PRESS/David Lipnowski

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister rejected calls Thursday to immediately toughen public-health orders as daily COVID-19 case counts continued to rise.

Pallister said he is willing to impose tighter rules if need be, but Manitoba already has a long list of restrictions on travel, social gatherings and more.

Read more: Manitoba reports another COVID-19 death, 164 new cases

“Our restrictions, which are and continue to be some of the most limiting in the country … have effectively helped Manitobans to bend the curve down,” Pallister said.

“We’re continually monitoring the situation with the guidance of our public health officials. And although I know there are probably a hundred thousand other people out there that have opinions, I’m going to stick with (chief public health officer Dr.) Brent Roussin as my principal adviser when it comes to this.”

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Pallister’s comments came shortly before the province reported 261 new COVID-19 cases and one death. It was the highest daily count since January, and other measurements such as the percentage of people testing positive have risen in recent weeks as well.

As of Thursday the current five-day COVID-19 test positivity rate is 6.4 per cent provincially and 6.5 per cent in Winnipeg.

Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman had called for tougher measures Wednesday. He said the third wave of the pandemic had clearly begun.

Read more: COVID-19: ‘Ring vaccination’ can teach us how to target limited supply

Manitoba currently requires anyone arriving in the province to self-isolate for 14 days and caps outdoor public gatherings at 10 people.

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Retail outlets have strict capacity limits. Restaurants can only seat members of the same household together at indoor tables. People can only have two designated visitors inside their homes.

The rules were even tougher last fall after Manitoba saw its case numbers and hospitalization rates jump. Restaurants were banned from offering indoor dining, and non-essential retail outlets were only allowed to provide delivery and curbside pickup.

The Opposition New Democrats said they want tougher rules imposed immediately, but did not offer specifics.

“I would defer to Dr. Roussin in terms of the contours of what needs to take place but it does seem as though we have to take action now,” NDP Leader Wab Kinew said.

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Read more: Manitoba to prioritize restaurant employees, grocery store workers for COVID-19 vaccines

“Maybe (if) we take quick action now, we can get back to normal and enjoy more of summer.”

The virus’s latest victim, a man in his 70s from the Prairie Mountain Health region, brings the total number of Manitobans with COVID-19 who have died to 962.

Manitoba has now reported 36,890 cases of COVID-19 since March 2020, after health officials said three earlier cases were removed due to a data correction.

–With files from Shane Gibson

 

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

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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.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, visit our coronavirus page.

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