WINNIPEG — Manitoba’s chief public health officer says people are losing sight of the fundamentals that previously kept the number of COVID-19 cases low in the province, as a cluster connected to a pork-processing plant grows larger.
The province reported 40 new cases on Friday.
Dr. Brent Roussin said people need to keep their distance from each other, avoid large indoor crowds and stay home when they are sick, because the province cannot only rely on massive restrictions to get the spread of the virus under control.
“This virus is another year or two at least,” he told a news conference. “So we can’t continually rely on massive shutdowns to get through this.”
Roussin also issued his most stern recommendation yet about masks. He said people should wear masks in indoor public places when they aren’t sure physical distancing can be assured, like running errands or going to retail outlets.
“Let’s put a mask on,” he said.
Roussin added, however, that he is only recommending strongly that students from Grades 5 to 12 wear masks when they return to school come September. The recommendation is part of the provincial government’s back-to-school plan announced earlier this week.
Manitoba spent months with low numbers of new infections and many days without any new cases before the recent increase. Since the beginning of the pandemic, there has only been one day in April with a case count as high as Friday’s.
Roussin said health officials now go through as many as 25 or more close contacts for each person who has tested positive. On average, he said, 14 per cent of close contacts go on to develop COVID-19.
“These are indications we are starting to lose track of our fundamentals,” he said.
In Brandon, a city west of Winnipeg, there are 90 active cases. Health officials have said many are linked to a cluster related to a person didn’t properly isolate after travelling.
That cluster has affected the city’s Maple Leaf Foods pork-processing plant, where 39 employees have tested positive. Roussin said there is still no indication COVID-19 is being spread within the facility.
The United Food and Commercial Workers union Local 832, which represents nearly 2,000 employees at the plant, called for a halt to production until all staff are tested.
The company, which has argued the workplace is safe and operations will continue, has urged local leaders to call on residents to wear masks and social distance. On Friday, Maple Leaf announced that it has partnered with the City of Brandon to make disposable masks available to everyone in the community.
Roussin said Maple Leaf has taken significant precautions and is requiring many employees to self-isolate.
He added that region-specific restrictions are not off the table, if cases in the area continue to climb.
“This virus is still here. We are not done with this.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Aug. 14, 2020
Active COVID-19 cases up slightly in Red Deer and Central zone – rdnewsnow.com
Sep 22, 2020 5:06 PM
Alberta is reporting 150 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday.
The latest numbers released by the province show 16,889 cases of coronavirus identified in the province since the pandemic began, with the number of active cases now at 1,565 – up 106 from Monday.
The number of people in hospital with the virus is 51 with nine in intensive care and two more deaths, bringing the death toll to 258. Recovered cases now stand at 15,066.
In the Central zone, the number of active cases is up four to 24, while 629 have recovered. There are currently no hospitalizations due to COVID-19 in the Central Zone.
COVID-19 cases confirmed at two more Winnipeg schools – CTV News
The province is advising of confirmed cases of COVID-19 at two more schools in Winnipeg.
Tuesday evening, the province announced there had been a confirmed case of COVID-19 at St. Maurice School on September 17 and 18, and at Emerson School on September 16 and 17.
The province said that staff at St. Maurice School, which is a private K-12 school in Winnipeg, and Emerson School, an elementary school in Winnipeg, is working with public health officials.
The WRHA said staff at both schools had immediately closed off the areas used by the infected persons. These areas were not used again until after cleaning and disinfection occurred.
“Be assured that public health investigations to identify individuals who may have been exposed begin within 24 hours of a confirmed laboratory test,” the province said. “Anyone identified as a close contact will be contacted and provided instructions for self-isolation (quarantine). Testing may also be recommended.”
The province said the exposures for both schools are assessed as low risk and the infection was not acquired at the schools.
The province did not say if any cohorts within the schools have been affected.
CTV News will update this story when more information is available.
COVID outbreak swells at North Kildonan school – Winnipeg Free Press
The COVID-19 outbreak at a North Kildonan school now numbers 20 cases, public health officials said Tuesday, as half of the John Pritchard School students still expected to attend classes there stayed away.
Last week, seven cases were reported at the kindergarten-to-Grade 8 school where about 250 students in cohorts that may have been exposed were sent home for at least two weeks of remote learning.
Parents and guardians on pickup duty at the school were feeling the weight of the situation as their kids left the building at the end of the day.
“My feeling is not very calm,” said the mother of three students as she waited outside for their dismissal. “All day, before I pick them up, I am thinking about my children.”
The children aren’t scared, she said. But she is.
A man picking up his granddaughter was less ill at ease.
“I feel fine, she feels fine, and I think they’re doing the best they can,” he said, referring to both the school and province. “The reality of the situation is not a matter of if they’re going to get it, but when. There’s going to be more cases in more schools — I think that’s inevitable. But I think everyone’s doing the best job they can.”
Schools with confirmed cases
Click to Expand
• Beaverlodge Elementary School
• College Louis Riel
• Churchill High School
• Daniel McIntyre Collegiate
• Emerson School
• Garden City Collegiate
• Gordon Bell High School
• John Pritchard School
• Meadows School (Brandon)
• New Era School (Brandon)
• St. Aidan’s Christian School
• St. Maurice School
A spokeswoman for the River East Transcona School Division said 308 of the school’s students are learning remotely and 76 are supposed be in the classroom, but 50 per cent of them were absent for in-class learning Tuesday.
The growing case numbers came as no surprise; chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin told a media briefing Monday that more cases connected to the infected cohort would likely be confirmed and announced.
Division spokeswoman Amanda Gaudes said public health officials have not advised administrators of any additional measures required at the school.
Meanwhile, the province reported a confirmed case of COVID-19 at College Louis Riel on Sept. 14. The francophone high school is working closely with public health officials; areas used by the infected person were closed off until cleaning and disinfection occurred.
Close contacts have been identified and are self-isolating. The school remains open and no one else is currently required to self-isolate.
The province said the infection was not acquired at school, and based on the investigation, the exposure was assessed as low-risk.
Meanwhile, parents of students at Emerson School in North Kildonan were informed Tuesday that a person with a confirmed case of COVID-19 was in the elementary school on Sept. 16 and 17. The area used by the infected person was disinfected and close contacts are being notified.
Officials also announced a possible exposure at the elementary school in Gladstone.
An asymptomatic individual visited the K-6 school in the town, 150 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, during the school day Sept. 8-10 and Sept. 14.
In a letter to parents, Dr. Davinder Singh, medical officer of health at Southern Health, wrote that all close contacts connected to the case have been identified and advised to self-isolate.
“All other students and staff can continue to attend school in person,” he advised.
Students and staff members who have not been contacted by public health are being asked to self-monitor for symptoms, no matter how minor. Singh said it is recommended children are tested for COVID-19 as soon as symptoms appear.
— With files from Ben Waldman and Maggie Macintosh
After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.
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