Manitoba announced 40 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the total number of active cases in the province to 246.
More than half of the cases — 25 — are in the Prairie Mountain Health region, said Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief public health officer, at a news conference. That region includes the city of Brandon.
A further five cases are in the Southern Health region and 10 are in the Winnipeg Health region.
Early investigations suggest most of the Prairie Mountain cases are linked to previously announced cases in Brandon, Roussin said. But there are “early indications” of community spread in the city.
Currently, 31 cases in the province from the past seven days are classified as “non-epi linked,” or community spread, Roussin said. That’s likely an overestimation, he added, because some of them may later be connected to known transmission chains.
“We’ve seen this growth in cases. We know that many of them are linked to other cases or to clusters, but we are seeing some evidence of community transmission at this point,” Roussin said.
“But again, we know what we need to do. We’ve done it before.”
Roussin urged Manitobans to keep up with the “fundamentals” that prevent spread of COVID-19, including hand hygiene, staying home when sick and physical distancing.
A rise in the number of people each infected person has been in contact with shows Manitobans may be losing sight of those essentials, he said.
The province is also warning the public of three occasions where people may have been exposed to COVID-19. The first one was at a Brandon Sobey’s at 1570 18th St., on Aug. 7.
Another potential exposure happened on Aug. 10 at the Minnedosa Hospital at 334 First St., and a third was on Aug. 9 at the Cartwright Town and Country Golf Club on Highway 3, just west of Cartwright.
Tie for highest single-day jump in cases
The announcement of 40 new cases matches the previous record for the largest jump in cases in Manitoba in a single day. The last time Roussin announced such a high number was April 2, when 40 cases were announced.
The new cases bring the total number of confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases to 643. A total of 389 people have recovered and eight Manitobans have died.
New, more granular detail on the geographic breakdown of cases posted on the province’s website shows 90 of the active cases in the province are in Brandon, up from 80 on Thursday. Another 44 active cases are in Winnipeg, the province’s dashboard shows.
There are now 39 cases linked to a business in Brandon, Roussin said. Previous reporting has identified the business as the Maple Leaf Foods pork processing facility.
The province still has no evidence indicating there’s transmission of the virus within that workplace, Roussin said. Brandon is currently the site of a large cluster of cases that numbered in the “high 60s” on Thursday, Roussin said, and some of those people “happen to work” at the plant, he said.
However, the increasing number of cases at the plant “requires us to pay as close attention as we can to that,” he said.
Nine people are currently in hospital for COVID-19, including three in intensive care.
A total of 2,288 tests were completed Thursday, bringing the province’s total to 110,492 since early February. The five-day test positivity rate is 1.25 per cent, up from 1.19 per cent on Thursday.
More details about Manitoba’s back-to-school plan were also announced on Thursday. Students in grades 5 to 12 will now have to wear face masks while riding the bus, and mask use will be strongly recommended — but not required — in crowded spaces and common areas at school, officials said.
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