Long weekend COVID-19 cases prompt calls for more guidance, information from Manitoba government

Manitoba recorded a spike in COVID-19 cases over the long weekend, with 18 new cases added to the provinces active count on Saturday.

In mid-July Manitoba was down to one active case in the province, with the highest recorded one-day COVID-19 count of 40 dating back to April.

Read more: After long-weekend spike, Manitoba announces 2 additional COVID-19 cases

At the beginning of the pandemic, health officials and provincial ministers were conducting daily briefings to detail where cases were seen, and how they had manifested – whether it be travel related, household contact or by community transmission.

Last week, the province announced they’d be going down to one media conference a week.

With the recent influx of cases, Manitoba’s opposition leader says the province should be providing more information to residents, not less.

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“When we look at the southern health region that includes not just communities like Steinbach, but also Portage La Prairie,” said the leader of the NDP, Wab Kinew.

“Those are on two opposite sides of the city of Winnipeg. So there’s a huge difference if there’s a case in Steinbach, should people in Portage be concerned or can they practice the normal social distancing measures?”

Of the cases on the weekend and Tuesday, 10 were in the Prairie Mountain Health region, two in the Interlake, 12 in the Southern Health region and three in Winnipeg.

Read more: ‘It gets a bit more personal’: 6 Steinbach businesses closed over COVID-19 concerns

Steinbach Mayor Earl Funk says he had to wait over the long weekend to get information about the coronavirus cases in his community.

“The challenge was we didn’t have any details. We needed details from Manitoba health and those were released at 1 p.m. today,” he said on Tuesday. “That information is always helpful but we knew we had to wait until Tuesday because of the long weekend to get the information, I didn’t want to talk much until I heard from Manitoba Health.

“Basically it’s all one family and related to travel and or close contact. As far as we now know, there’s really no community spread. It’s not from community spread but travel and close contact from people in the one household.”

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COVID-19 concerns have some Manitoba parents looking at alternate education plans

COVID-19 concerns have some Manitoba parents looking at alternate education plans

Funk says his community has rallied together to support local businesses during the pandemic. He believes his community will continue to do so and not be scared off by the two restaurants and credit union where cases were confirmed.

“If there was a safety concern, the health department would have said so. I do believe it’s ok to move around in the community but you have to move around safety. To make sure you’re taking the precautions needed,” he said.

“I think for the most part, it is safe to move in our community, you just have to make sure you’re adhering to the protocols Manitoba health has put forward.”

Provincial health officials say they will still issue their daily COVID-19 bulletin listing the number of new cases, active cases and hospitalizations, but after Tuesday’s news conference say they might re-consider their once-a-week only briefing.

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“We’re not fixed on a one briefing per week basis,” said Manitoba’s Minister of Health, Cameron Friesen. “I know that in the discussions that happened today we’ll be rethinking what it would take to flex up to more briefings.”

The province hasn’t committed to increasing the number of availabilities, but says it will be looking at ways to keep Manitobans informed.

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