A cluster of COVID-19 cases in Brandon, Man., has grown to 64 as public health officials announced 16 new cases in the province on Tuesday.
Of the 16 new cases, 11 are in the Prairie Mountain Health region, which includes Brandon, and five are in the Southern Health region, Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin said at a news conference on Monday.
There are 22 people who work at the Maple Leaf Foods pork processing facility in Brandon who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus; some of them are part of the cluster.
Most of the cases in the area are linked to close contact with someone else who has COVID-19, he said. However, people in the community should be careful.
“We are seeing early signs of community transmission,” Roussin said.
“Everywhere in Manitoba should be taking caution, but that area should be taking extra caution.”
There are currently 196 active cases in the province, and 354 people have recovered from the virus.
It’s the highest number of active cases Manitoba has had since the pandemic began, according to the tallies in the province’s daily bulletins and on its online coronavirus statistics dashboard.
The total number of confirmed and probable positive cases of COVID-19 is now 558.
Prairie Mountain Health officials warn people in Brandon to expect a wait if they go to get tested for COVID-19, as demand for tests surges at the city’s only testing site
The community testing site at Brandon’s Town Centre Parkade is experiencing “very high volumes” of people showing up for testing, a public service announcement said Monday.
“We are asking individuals who are not symptomatic or who have not been directed by Public Health or Occupational Health to be tested, to please refrain from coming to the Brandon test site today,” the announcement said.
“Those who arrive for testing should be prepared for lineups and to wait.”
A second site in Brandon, at the Keystone Centre, could open as early as Tuesday, Manitoba Health Minister Cameron Friesen said in the news conference Monday.
Friesen said he’d heard the lineup Monday morning was “some blocks long.”
“That’s too long,” he said.
That testing site is extending its hours on Monday and there are plans to open it seven days a week.
“We have to have that ability to flex up when we need it, and right now, Brandon needs it,” Friesen said.
An additional 1,364 lab tests were done on Sunday, bringing the total number of tests completed since early February to 103,782.
More restrictions could come in response to the cluster in Brandon, but not necessarily for everybody, Roussin said.
Under a “surgical approach to restrictions,” areas with clusters could face more restrictions, while others that have lower numbers of cases would not, he said.
Roussin didn’t provide a timeline for region-specific pandemic restrictions, because most cases have a known transmission chain at this time, he said.
Friesen promised more geographic detail about COVID-19 cases will be provided by the end of the week.
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