Manitoba posts record-tying 9 COVID-19 deaths and 474 new cases on Thursday

There are 474 new cases of COVID-19 in Manitoba on Thursday and nine more people with the illness have died, the province says in a news release.

It’s the second day in a row Manitoba has announced nine deaths — the highest single-day increase in coronavirus-linked fatalities.

The province’s five-day test positivity rate — a rolling average of the COVID-19 tests that come back positive — is now 11 per cent in Manitoba, another record. In Winnipeg, that rate is 11.4 per cent, the release says.

The deaths announced Thursday include four people linked to the outbreak at the Maples Long Term Care Home: three men and one woman, all in their 80s.

They also include a woman in her 90s linked to the outbreak at Holy Family Home, a man in his 80s linked to the outbreak at the Bethesda Regional Health Care medicine unit and a man in his 60s linked to the outbreak at Parkview Place Long Term Care Home. 

Two other Winnipeg women not linked to any outbreak — one in her 50s and one in her 70s — were also among the deaths announced Thursday.

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Dr. Brent Roussin will hold an extra news conference after the province confirmed it would not restrict gatherings to a single household when new pandemic restrictions took effect on Thursday — contrary to statements Roussin made earlier this week.

CBC News will live stream the chief provincial public health officer’s news conference here at 12:30 p.m. The briefing comes in addition to his three regularly scheduled news conferences, which this week were slated for Monday, Tuesday and Friday.

The ban on social gatherings was among the most severe of the new rules that were set to become law as of Thursday, when all Manitoba communities that were not already in the critical red zone joined Winnipeg and other areas at the highest level of the province’s pandemic response system.

Manitoba’s newest public health order now sets the maximum gathering size at five people, not including household members — leaving the province’s cap on gatherings unchanged.

Late Wednesday, Roussin suggested there would be no way to enforce the household-only gathering rule.

The new rules that took effect Thursday morning also shut down gyms, places of worship, theatres, hair salons, recreational centres and non-essential retail stores. Those measures will stay in place for at least two weeks, but likely longer, Roussin said.

The new pandemic response rules come as Manitoba continues shattering records and reporting daily COVID-19 cases in the hundreds. On Wednesday, the province announced a record-high nine new deaths linked to the coronavirus, and its highest-ever hospitalizations and test positivity rate.

Health officials in Manitoba are also working to create more spaces for people with COVID-19 and their close contacts to self-isolate, as cases continue rising quickly.