At least 19 members of the Winnipeg Police Service have tested positive for COVID-19 and upwards of one hundred others are isolating, the union that represents them said Sunday
“It’s really, I would say, exploded in the last several days with members that are testing positive, with the contact tracing, so we have some of those units that are pretty much completely shut down right now,” said Maurice Sabourin, the president of the Winnipeg Police Association.
“We haven’t seen a spike like this since the beginning of the pandemic.”
The outbreak is affecting the report processing unit, the court units, the bureau of police records and the Canadian Police Information Centre unit.
“It’s support for the police officers on the street and investigative units that are relying on those people for reports, for warrants to be pulled and for charges to be laid,” Sabourin said.
“It’s a very important support staff area.”
The police service’s public information office said in an emailed statement there are provisions in place to ensure emergency services aren’t impacted.
Sabourin echoed that, but added that the aftermath of processing has “greatly been impacted” and it has a ripple effect.
Although none of the cases have been confirmed as more contagious coronavirus variants, Sabourin surmises that some may eventually be classified as such because of the rapid transmission.
“This spike is very concerning,” he said.
St. Norbert-Seine River Coun. Markus Chambers said the police board, of which he is the chair, was informed of the outbreak late last week.
“It’s consistent with what we’re seeing now in terms of the city of Winnipeg and the variants that have become the dominant strains.”
Police eligible for vaccines
Police are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccines, but Chambers says they should’ve been prioritized along with paramedics.
“The City of Winnipeg has been lobbying the provincial government to have plans like this in place upwards a month ago,” he said.
“We’re hoping now it’s not too little too late.”
Sabourin added: “We truly can’t afford to be shut down.”