Two more people have died of COVID-19 in Manitoba, as the province announced 80 new cases on Monday — the same day new restrictions go into effect in Winnipeg and several surrounding communities.
The deaths of a man in his 70s and a woman in her 80s are both connected to the Heritage Lodge personal care home in Winnipeg.
This brings the death toll in Manitoba to 42.
Of the 80 new cases, 51 are in the Winnipeg health region, 14 are in the Southern Health region, six are in the Prairie Mountain Health region, five are in the Northern Health region and four are in the Interlake-Eastern health region.
There are currently 28 people in hospital with COVID-19, six of them in intensive care.
The number of active cases is 1,743, while 1,597 have recovered from the virus. However, provincial officials have said there’s a backlog of cases that have not been followed up on, so the listed active case number is inflated.
The current five-day test-positivity rate — a rolling five-day average of the percentage of COVID-19 tests that come back positive — is 4.2 per cent.
The province completed 1,677 COVID-19 tests on Sunday, and the median total turnaround time for tests is now 60 hours, or 2½ days, Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin said.
Some COVID-19 test patients have reported waiting as long as a week to get their test results.
“Definitely that’s not our goal,” Roussin said.
“We need to be contacting people, having them advise us of their contacts, getting contact notification much quicker than that. For the most part, it is happening quicker than that, but there are some outliers.”
The province is in the process of bringing in Canadian Red Cross and Statistics Canada staff to help with contact tracing, Roussin said.
Dakota Medical Centre at 17-845 Dakota St. in Winnipeg will become the first community clinic to offer dedicated COVID-19 testing. It’s part of a partnership between the provincial government and Doctors Manitoba to enable physicians to perform COVID-19 tests, in an effort to expand the capacity for performing nasal swabs.
All clinics that offer testing will implement protocols to separate COVID-19 test patients from regular appointments, Roussin said.
Doctors Manitoba president Dr. Cory Baillie said several clinics across Manitoba have offered to have COVID-19 testing performed at their offices.
The testing would be done after hours, or during the day in a separate area from regular patients if the clinics are large enough to accommodate that.
“The physicians’ offices have been in touch with public health officials to ensure that protocols are in place to separate patient testing from regular appointments and ensuring there’s appropriate disinfection and appropriate personal protective equipment for physicians and their staff,” he said.
Testing appointments start Tuesday
Tthe province will begin booking appointments for COVID-19 tests at three locations in Winnipeg:
- 604 St. Mary’s Rd.
- 2735 Pembina Hwy.
- 1181 Portage Ave.
To book an appointment for a COVID-19 test, call 1-855-268-4318 starting on Tuesday.
The system will be expanded to other regions in the coming weeks.
Roussin said one of two deaths announced on Sunday is linked to Parkview Place, bringing the total number of deaths at the care home to at least 10. The centre, which is Manitoba’s worst outbreak in a personal care home, now has 84 cases, including 73 residents.
An outbreak at the Headingley Correctional Centre now has 11 confirmed cases, including nine inmates.
The latest COVID-19 figures were released as new restrictions come into effect in Winnipeg, which are set to last for at least two weeks.
“We’re going to leave these on for the shortest duration that’s required. That would usually be two weeks,” Roussin said.
Depending on how the next two weeks go, those restrictions could be lifted or eased.
“If we see improvement, if we see the transmission of the virus decreasing, if we don’t see strains on our heath-care system, then it’s quite possible that we can roll back some of these restrictions,” Roussin said.
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The new restrictions include reducing the limit on gathering sizes to five people. Stand-alone bars and nightclubs, casinos, video lottery lounges, bingo halls and live entertainment facilities must close.
The provincial government made the announcement about tighter restrictions last week as Manitoba experienced the worst surge of new infections since the start of the pandemic, with the vast majority concentrated in Winnipeg.
Last week, the province had three consecutive days of record-breaking, triple-digit daily case counts, as well as the highest test-positivity rate — a rolling five-day average of the percentage of COVID-19 tests that come back positive — of 5.2 per cent.
Over the weekend, those numbers started to decline, with daily counts of 75, 85 and 44 new confirmed cases on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
The declining numbers come roughly 10 days after the province imposed tougher restrictions on bars and restaurants that serve alcohol.
Roussin couldn’t say whether the falling numbers were the result of those restrictions.
“Certainly that’s the intent of putting those restrictions in place, is to have an effect on these numbers,” he said.
“We hope that that’s our downward trend, now.”
Public health officials are warning about more possible exposures in Winnipeg, including at schools and on Winnipeg Transit.
- Winnipeg Transit route 75 on Oct. 5, boarding at Lagimodière Boulevard and St. Anne’s Road around 8 a.m. and exiting at Kildonan Place Mall.
- Winnipeg Transit route 45 on Oct. 5, boarding at Panet Road and Reenders Avenue around 6:45 p.m. and getting off at Portage Avenue, then transferring to route 55 before exiting at Worthington Avenue and St. Anne’s Road.
- River Elm School on Oct. 8, 9, 13 and 14.
- Sisler High School on Oct. 8 and 9.
The province also announced possible exposures outside of Winnipeg.
- Assiniboine Credit Union at 335 Railway Ave. W. in Gillam, Man., on Oct. 13 to 16, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day.
- Salon Italia at 3 Station Rd. in Thompson, Man., on Oct. 9, 2020, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Christians of Gospel Faith Church in Steinbach, Man., from October 11, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Yellowquill School in Portage la Prairie on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, 2 and 5.
- Niverville Middle School on Oct. 6