‘We’re at a critical point,’ Manitoba’s top doctor says as 365 new COVID-19 cases, 3 deaths announced

There are 365 news cases of COVID-19 and three deaths in Manitoba on Monday, health officials say.

The test positivity rate for Manitoba rose to 9.5 per cent, which is a record; it’s 9.3 per cent in Winnipeg.

About two-thirds of the new cases are in the Winnipeg health region.

Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin said he has met with Premier Brian Pallister to discuss further restriction possibilities.

“We’re at a critical point where we need to change these dynamics,” Roussin said.

The death of a Winnipeg man in his 80s is tied to the outbreak at Victoria Hospital, and a man in his 70s and a woman in her 90s from the Southern Health Region have also died.

Manitoba deaths due to the virus are now at 109.

People without symptoms will no longer be able to book COVID-19 test appointments, and people who aren’t showing symptoms may be turned away from testing sites, says a Manitoba government news release. That’s to make sure the system can maintain capacity for testing symptomatic people.

Employers are being asked not to send employees for tests unless they have symptoms or have been advised by health officials to get a test.

The province also declared outbreaks at Bethania Mennonite Personal Care Home, Extendicare Tuxedo Villa personal care home and Riverview Health Centre in Winnipeg, as well as at St. Amant Health and Transition Services.

More to come

Read a previous version of this story below:

Health officials plan to update Manitobans about COVID-19 in the province today following a series of emergency responses to one of the hardest-hit personal care homes in Winnipeg and calls for an investigation.

Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin and Lanette Siragusa, chief nursing officer of Shared Health, will deliver an update on COVID-19 in Manitoba at 12:30 p.m. CT.

CBC News will carry the news conference live here, on CBC Gem, on Facebook and on Twitter.

The update comes on the heels of Manitoba reaching 100 COVID-19 deaths over the weekend. Three deaths and 441 cases were announced Sunday, as well as a provincial test positivity rate of 9.2 per cent.

Friday night saw a crisis unfold as several ambulances and paramedics were called to Maples Long Term Care Home.

The condition of a number of residents who tested positive for the illness declined quickly that night and a rapid response team was sent in Saturday. Eight residents died in the span of 48 hours, including two on Friday.

The emergency calls prompted officials from the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and Revera, the for-profit company that owns the Maples care home, to hold a rare weekend news conference. They said the home had a full compliment of nurses on staff, along with health-care aides, though the union that represents nurses disputes that.

Health Minister Cameron Friesen called for independent investigations into Maples and Parkview Place, another Revera-run home that remains in the grips of a COVID-19 outbreak in which 23 people have died. As of Sunday, 22 Maples residents had died of the illness.

Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman weighed in Monday morning, describing what’s happened at Maples sickening. The provincial government should have learned from outbreaks in other provinces and needs to be more proactive, he said.

Monday is also the first day enhanced restrictions in the Southern Health region come into effect.

Numerous non-essential businesses were ordered to close as the region follows Winnipeg in going into the red, or critical, level under the provincial pandemic response system.

The latest weekly epidemiological report from the province, released Monday morning, said 1,785 cases were identified from Oct. 25-31, with about 70 per cent in Winnipeg.

As of that week, 320 health-care workers had tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic emerged in Manitoba in March, with half of them having already recovered.