Manitoba’s top doctor to update on efforts against coronavirus as provincial lockdown starts

Manitoba’s top doctor has called a press conference Thursday as the province starts a stiffer round of COVID-19 restrictions, and questions swirl over a last-minute change to the lockdown’s orders.

Under the restrictions bars, museums and theatres are closed and recreational activities suspended. Churches can’t hold in-person services and non-essential stores and restaurants are limited to curbside pickup and delivery.

Read more: Coronavirus: Confusion around social gatherings in new Manitoba public health orders

But restrictions around social gatherings in people’s homes — originally not allowed under rules announced Tuesday — were changed in the Public Health Order posted online late Wednesday, which simply states that the maximum size of gatherings in the province is five people.

Manitoba’s chief public officer of health, Dr. Brent Roussin, who defended the change on social media Wednesday evening, is scheduled to take reporter’s questions at a 12:30 p.m. press conference.

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Coronavirus: All of Manitoba moving to Level Red Thursday, tough restrictions to be implemented

Global News will stream the media briefing live in this story.

Manitoba’s NDP leader Wab Kinew has called the walk back a “serious threat to our ability to fight COVID-19 in the province and will only cause confusion and doubt regarding public health measures.

Read more: Winnipeg retailers adapt ahead of second shutdown; COVID-19 cases rise to record levels

“It requires immediate explanation and, more importantly, reinstatement,” he said in a statement late Wednesday.

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Roussin fired back on social media Wednesday.

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“Again, #Stayhome to stop the transmission of #COVID19. That’s it. That’s the message,” he posted on Twitter.

Manitoba has been struggling to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus since it started spiking in recent weeks after a summer lull.

Read more: Coronavirus: All of Manitoba moving to Level Red Thursday, tough restrictions to be implemented

The province reported 5,676 active cases on Wednesday, the deadliest day of the pandemic for Manitoba, with nine new deaths for a total of 123.

It’s the largest per-capita caseload of active infections in the country.

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Coronavirus: Manitoba business owners react to tough new restrictions

The sharp rise in cases and, with it, a record number of hospitalizations has put the health-care system under strain. Intensive care beds, including those occupied by non-COVID-patients, are running close to capacity.

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There have been outbreaks in long-term care homes and hospitals, and widespread community transmission.

Read more: Manitoba sets deadly record with 9 deaths, adds 431 more coronavirus cases

“We need to flatten our COVID curve and we need to do that now,” Premier Brian Pallister said Tuesday as he announced the widespread slowdown which is to last as long as four weeks.

–With files from Elisha Dacey and The Canadian Press

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.

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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, click here.

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