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Northern travel banned as COVID cases mount; making masks mandatory under consideration – Winnipeg Free Press

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The Free Press has made this story available free of charge so everyone can access trusted information on the coronavirus.

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As the number of COVID-19 cases mount in southern Manitoba, the province is re-imposing travel restrictions to the North and warning that greater use of masks may be required in the future.

Chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin announced Monday that the re-implementation of travel restrictions to northern Manitoba — instituted in April and removed in June — would take effect on Thursday. He also asked Manitobans to respect any travel restrictions First Nations have in place.

Public health officials announced 28 new cases of the novel coronavirus in Manitoba on Monday, on top of the 90 reported over the weekend.


Since Aug. 1, Manitoba has recorded 806 of its total 1,214 cases. Winnipeg has seen 179 new cases announced in August alone.

The province has seen a surge in cases in Prairie Mountain Health region, caused primarily by a growing cluster in Brandon and cases linked to Hutterite or communal living situations.

There have been 423 cases in Prairie Mountain Health region since July 1, 250 of which are currently active. So far, there have been 280 cases in communal living communities, with 115 still active.

Despite all the new cases, the province’s five-day test positivity rate fell to 2.1 per cent on Monday after reaching a high of 3.1 per cent last week. A total of 5,414 lab tests were performed on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

However, the amount of community spread of the virus continues to be a concern. In the past seven days, there have been 32 such cases, including 16 in Prairie Mountain Health, two in Southern Health and 14 in Winnipeg. Overall rates of community spread in Manitoba had hovered around 12 per cent but have since grown to 15 per cent, with spikes of 20 per cent in Winnipeg and Brandon in the past month or so.


Meanwhile, the number of Manitobans hospitalized by COVID-19 has grown to 11 (with one in intensive care) from five on Friday.

Roussin said that before reimposing more restrictions on Manitobans, the province is likely to turn to increased mask use as a control strategy, in case numbers keep pushing upwards.

“I think if we see case numbers continue to climb, if we start seeing indicators that are telling us we need to have another implementation of some sort of public health intervention, then our next step is likely to be masks,” he said Monday without providing specifics.

In Prairie Mountain Health, the only region in Manitoba to be rated in the orange or restricted category, wearing a mask is required in all indoor public places and at all indoor and outdoor public gatherings.

On Tuesday, a previously announced order requiring that all hospital visitors wear masks takes effect.


Northern Manitoba First Nations, who had lobbied for the re-imposition of travel restrictions north of the 53rd parallel, welcomed Roussin’s announcement.

“I want to commend Dr. Roussin for working closely with MKO and Northern First Nations in working to protect our citizens from the COVID-19 virus,” Grand Chief Garrison Settee of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc., said in a prepared statement.

The new public health order, like the previous one, will include many exemptions, Roussin said. Unaffected will be folks who live in northern Manitoba or plan to set up residence there, and people who work for the federal or provincial governments or a Crown corporation or child and family services. Also excluded are health providers, people who are travelling to deliver goods, provide services or operate a business. Those who are travelling directly to lodges or campgrounds or directly to Churchill will also be exempt.

There are currently no active cases in the Northern Health region; the area has seen four cases in total, and all four have recovered.


Of the 28 new cases announced on Monday, 13 are in Prairie Mountain Health, seven are in Winnipeg health region, six are in Southern Health region and two are in Interlake-Eastern health region.

Officials said an employee at a third Brandon personal care home has tested positive for COVID-19. The health worker at Fairview Personal Care Home is a close contact of a previously identified case. Hillcrest Place and Rideau Park care homes in Brandon have also seen staff test positive.

An outbreak at Bethesda Place personal care home in Steinbach has grown to 10 persons, including seven staff. Two of the three residents to have contracted the virus there have died.

Health officials are also warning of a possible exposure to COVID-19 at the Frederickson Performance Centre in Brandon on Aug. 17, from 7 to 8:30 a.m. and Aug. 23, from 9 to 10:30 a.m. While the risk of transmission is considered low, those affected should watch for symptoms, the province said.

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

Larry Kusch

Larry Kusch
Legislature Reporter

Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.

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COVID-19 in Sask: Here's what we know ahead of the next update – CTV News

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REGINA —
Here’s what we know ahead of Saskatchewan’s next update on COVID-19 cases in the province.

SASKATCHEWAN CASES

Saskatchewan reported 10 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, bringing the total number of active cases to 146.

In a release, the province said six new cases are in Saskatoon, two are in Regina, one is in the far north east zone and one is in the central west zone.

Two of the new cases in Saskatoon are linked to a previously reported outbreak identified at Brandt Industries. To date, 19 cases have been connected to this cluster, the province said.

MOE REMINDS RESIDENTS TO KEEP GATHERINGS LOW

Premier Scott Moe says people should keep gathering sizes low to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, stressing they could face penalties if they don’t comply.

He said on Monday the vast majority of people are obeying the rules, but there have been some instances of individuals going out of bounds.

“We need to be careful,” Moe said during a press conference. “One infected person at the wrong place at the wrong time can turn into dozens of additional cases.”

The warnings come after a house gathering in Saskatoon caused cases to increase in that city.

SASK. RAMPING UP TESTING

The province announced on Tuesday it will be increasing testing in Saskatchewan, hoping to meet a goal of 4,000 tests per day.

Starting this week, Saskatchewan Health Authority labs will implement pooled testing of asymptomatic swabs.

This will allow labs to test more specimens with fewer testing materials and increase testing output, the SHA said in a news release.

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Sask. police visiting recent travellers to check compliance with mandatory self-isolation – CBC.ca

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Police in Saskatchewan are checking-up on people who are in mandatory self-isolation after returning from international travel.

Regina Police Service spokeswoman Elizabeth Popowich said Tuesday that police receive a daily list from the Saskatchewan Health Authority of people who have recently travelled. 

“We dispatch a police car to the home address to ensure that the person is in fact doing that mandatory 14-day isolation,” said Popowich. 

“And if they’re not, then we refer it back to the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) for further action as per the public health order.” 

Saskatoon police and the RCMP are also doing visits to check on compliance with the provincial order, which states anyone who has travelled internationally must isolate for two weeks. 

People who are isolating are allowed to be outside on their own property, such as a backyard or balcony, and they can take solitary walks if they do not have symptoms. 

Non-compliance referred back to health authority

Popowich said police do not issue immediate fines if a person does not open the door. Instead, they report back to the SHA to follow up. 

CBC has contacted the SHA for more information about the police visits and who initiated them.

Regina and Saskatoon police have both been doing check-ups since April.

‘There are consequences’ 

Police could issue a fine if someone is found to be repeatedly violating isolation after multiple checkups, but Popowich said she is not aware of any such fines being issued so far.

She said there are some instances where people may not receive a visit from police, for example if there is a mistake in the address or if police receive the information late in the quarantine period.

“Don’t risk getting a fine. Certainly don’t risk potentially carrying an infection to someone who is not as easily able to handle the illness,” she said.

“Treat it as though you could be paid a visit if you’ve been out of the country and you’re not self-isolating. If you’re not, then there are consequences.”

Popowich said Regina police have enough resources to take on the role of checking compliance. 

“Those calls get dispatched at a time when typically our other call loads are lower,” she said. 

In April, a Regina woman who had been diagnosed with COVID-19 was fined $2,800 for allegedly not complying with the order to self-isolate.

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Sask. Party first to 61 candidates – Prince Albert Daily Herald

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With its last nominee acclaimed Saturday, the Saskatchewan Party became the province’s first this election cycle to nominate a full slate of candidates.

There are 61 constituencies in Saskatchewan. The opposition NDP has 45 candidates listed on its website so far. The progressive conservatives are next, with 15, while the Saskatchewan Green Party has at least 13 — 11 listed on its website and another two by Elections Saskatchewan. This election’s newcomer, the Buffalo Party (formerly Wexit Saskatchewan) has nominated five and the Saskatchewan Liberals four.

Three independent candidates have also been listed by Elections Saskatchewan — Nestor Mryglod in Regina Wascana Plains, Trevor Wowk in Regina Lakeview and Rolf Hartloff in Regina Elphinstone-Centre.

Information about becoming an independent candidate is available on the Elections Saskatchewan Website.

The latest Sask. Party candidate — and the 61st to be nominated ahead of October’s provincial election, is Darren Deschambeault in Cumberland.

In a press release, he said he is looking forward to having representation from the region in Scott Moe’s government.

“Providing strong leadership and a real voice for the people of Cumberland in the legislature will help with a strong recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

Deschambeault was born and raised in Cumberland House, and currently works as a communications consultant for an oil and gas company.  He disclosed a 2001 impaired driving conviction that he has since received a pardon for.

Deschambeault will go up against incumbent NDP MLA Doyle Vermette and Saskatchewan progressive conservative candidate Dean Foster.

“With a full slate of 61 candidates nominated, Premier Scott Moe and the Saskatchewan Party team will be meeting voters in every part of the province to present their plan for a strong Saskatchewan and a strong economic recovery from the pandemic,” the Sask. Party said.

Locally, nominees are as follows:

Rosthern-Shellbrook

• Scott Moe, Saskatchewan Party (incumbent)

Saskatchewan Rivers

• Nadine Wilson, Saskatchewan Party (incumbent)

• Lyle Whitefish, NDP

• Shaun Harris, Progressive Conservative

Melfort

• Todd Goudy , Saskatchewan Party (incumbent)

• Lorne Schroeder, NDP

• Dave Waldner, Buffalo

Batoche

• Delbert Kirsch, Saskatchewan Party (incumbent)

• Lon Borgerson (NDP)

Prince Albert Carlton

• Joe Hargrave, Saskatchewan Party (incumbent)

• Troy Parenteau, NDP

Prince Albert Northcote

• Nicole Rancourt, NDP (incumbent)

• Alanna Ross, Saskatchewan Party

• Sarah Kraynick, Green Party

The provincial election is set for October 26.

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