Manitoba’s official active caseload of COVID-19 fell again on Thursday, as officials announced three new cases and seven additional recoveries from the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
The province now has 224 known cases of COVID-19, less than four weeks after the pandemic hit the province with its first three confirmed cases on March 12.
Since then, 76 people have recovered from the disease and three Manitobans have died.
The latest update lowers the province’s total active caseload — the number of patients still showing symptoms of the disease — to 145 on Thursday, dropping from 149 on Wednesday, when 48 recoveries were announced at once due to a backlog in reporting.
The province’s top doctor said the low numbers could show physical distancing measures are working. But he maintains it’s too early in the disease’s trajectory in the province to read very much into them.
“Certainly these last few days showed relatively few numbers in Manitoba, but you don’t have to look far in our neighbouring jurisdictions to see case counts climbing,” said Dr. Brent Roussin, the province’s chief public health officer, on Thursday.
“We need to keep our guards up. We need to double our efforts to maintain the flat curve right now in Manitoba.”
Data on the disease’s trajectory in the province is updated daily. Here’s what we know as of Thursday.
Eleven Manitobans with COVID-19 are currently hospitalized, including five people in intensive care, Roussin said Thursday.
Four of the ICU patients are on ventilators, mechanical breathing machines to help their bodies get enough oxygen.
One patient who had been in intensive care was stepped down to a medical unit, Roussin said.
In Manitoba, COVID-19 has affected patients of all ages — from five children under the age of 10 to three patients over the age of 80 — and from all regions. On Thursday, cases had been reported in each of the province’s five health regions, including:
- 15 in the Interlake-Eastern health region.
- 3 in the Northern health region.
- 11 in the Prairie Mountain health region.
- 23 in the Southern health region.
- 172 in the Winnipeg region.
Two employees at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg and one close contact have tested positive for COVID-19.
On Thursday, Roussin said a single patient COVID-19 in Manitoba has a typical range of two to 20 contacts in the community that public health must identify through contact tracing and follow up with to notify. However, he said the range is wide and depends strongly on the individual and circumstances.
Manitoba had completed 15,259 tests as of Thursday, including 551 tests on Wednesday alone.
The volume of testing done per day at the Cadham Provincial Laboratory has fallen since it peaked at more than 1,300 tests on a single day last week.
But Roussin said the proportion of positive tests has also dropped, meaning the overall lower number of new cases per day does not simply reflect lower testing.
The province expanded its categories for who can be tested on Thursday, to include symptomatic first responders.
Roussin said the province was able to expand its requirements as the number of Manitobans returning from travel dropped off.
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Right now, tests are only available in the province to people with symptoms who fall into certain groups. Those include, in addition to first responders, people who have travelled outside Manitoba in the past 14 days, those who have been in close contact with a confirmed case, health-care workers, and lab workers who have worked with COVID-19 tests.
Symptomatic people who live in northern Manitoba, a First Nation, or a remote or isolated community may also be tested, the province said, as can people living in a congregate setting, such as a shelter or a long-term care centre.
Nearly 20,000 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 have been identified in Canada as of Thursday. Across the country, 461 people have died.
On Thursday, federal health officials released modelling suggesting there could be nearly 32,000 cases of COVID-19 and between 500 and 700 deaths in the country by April 16. The projections indicate there could be anywhere from 11,000 to 22,000 deaths over the course of the pandemic, even with relatively strong control measures in place.
Cases in Canada are currently doubling every three to five days, officials said, which is considered relatively positive compared to other countries. Tam credited lessons learned from other countries about how control measures can limit the virus’s spread.
“We cannot prevent every death, but we must prevent every death that we can,” said chief public health officer Theresa Tam.
Worldwide, more than 94,000 people have died from the disease on Thursday.
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