The ongoing surge of new COVID-19 cases continued in Manitoba Friday as health officials reported 243 new cases, five additional deaths and said further restrictions are coming to the province’s Southern Health region.
The new cases bring the province’s total reported since March to 7,419 and include 4,286 that are active, according to the province’s online COVID-19 dashboard.
Health officials say two of the five new deaths — a man in his 90s and a woman in her 90s — are both linked to an ongoing outbreak at Victoria Hospital in Winnipeg. Another, a woman in her 90s from Winnipeg is connected to an outbreak at Maples Manor.
The other two deaths include a woman in her 40s from the Northern health region and a woman in her 60s from the Interlake-Eastern region.
They bring the province’s total number of deaths from COVID-19 reported since March to 96.
Southern region moves to critical
Manitoba’s chief public officer of health, Dr. Brent Roussin said spiking cases in southern Manitoba — including 52 new cases Friday — mean the region will move to red, or critical on the province’s COVID-19 response system starting Monday.
“We’ve been messaging to Manitobans for quite some times about the importance of the fundamentals and to reduce their contacts, but as we can see our cases have gone in the wrong direction,” he said.
“We’re seeing more cases, more strain on our health-care system and so further action is required.”
The changes will see all restaurants and bars closed to in-person dining, although take-out, drive-thru, and delivery will be allowed, Roussin said. Casinos, VLTs, and gaming facilitates will also be closed.
Capacity at religious gatherings will be cut to 15 per cent, or 100 people, whichever is lower, and retail shops will have capacity dropped to 25 per cent, or five people, whichever is higher. Grocery and pharmacies will be allowed to remain operating at 50 per cent capacity, Roussin said.
Indoor and outdoor recreation and sports facilities will also be closed under the new orders, while gyms and fitness centres will have capacity reduced to 25 per cent and masks will be required at all times, even while exercising.
The number of people in hospital with COVID-19 continued to climb Friday, with provincial numbers showing 160 in hospital with the virus and 20 who are in intensive care.
That’s up from the 153 in hospital and 16 in intensive care reported Thursday.
Manitoba’s five-day COVID-19 test positivity rate rose slightly to 9.1 per cent Friday, up from 8.9 per cent Thursday.
Of the latest cases reported Friday, the majority come from the Winnipeg health region, which identified 136 new cases and reported a 9.2 per cent five-day COVID-19 test positivity rate.
Seventeen of the new cases are from the Interlake-Eastern health region, 23 are from the Northern region, and 15 are from the Prairie Mountain Health region.
New outbreaks, testing sites
Meanwhile health officials said new outbreaks have been declared as of Fridayat Oscar’s Place homeless shelter in The Pas, , Maplewood Manor in Steinbach, and the St. Norbert personal care home in Winnipeg.
Earlier in the day Friday, the province announced a community medical clinic in Winnipeg will offer COVID-19 testing after regular business hours.
The Minor Illness and Injury Clinic will host the new drive-thru clinic in the parking lot of Red River College’s Notre Dame Campus at 2055 Notre Dame Ave.
The province said a new appointment-based, indoor COVID-19 testing is slated to open in Swan River on Monday.
The new site at 621 Main St. (former CMHA Building) will be open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Health officials said the drive-up testing site at the Swan Valley Primary Care Centre parking lot will close as of 1 p.m. Friday.
It will run weekdays from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., and weekends from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Appointments can be made online.
Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman also said Friday five bylaw officers will be pulled from their regular community duties and moved into helping enforce the new rules.
The officers will focus on those places that are shut down by the province, as well as places like gyms, yoga studios and fitness centres that have been allowed to remain open.
Provincial health officials reported 427 new cases of the virus Thursday as well as four additional deaths.
After weeks of rising case counts across the province, Roussin, said Friday people should stay home as much as possible, and should not be socializing with anyone outside their households.
“Now more than ever, all Manitobans need to focus on staying home, reducing your close contacts and focusing on the fundamentals to keep each other safe,” said Roussin.
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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