Private licensed daycare centres and preschools will close at the end of Friday in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, although some may stay open for health-care and other essential service workers, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister says.
Casinos will close at the end of the day Tuesday, Pallister said.
The premier made the announcements Tuesday during the daily media briefing on the Manitoba response to the coronavirus pandemic, which included news from provincial health officials.
Provincial officials also recommend the immediate suspension of visits to long-term care facilities and nursing homes until further notice, except for compassionate or end-of-life cases, and the cancellation of gatherings of more than 50 people.
Parents who are front-line health-care workers or emergency services providers who can’t find alternative child care are asked to call 204-945-0776 or 1-888-213-4754 (toll free).
Home-based child-care centres, which are licensed to care for up to eight children at a time, will still be allowed to operate.
Officials also announced Tuesday that an online screening tool for COVID-19 is now available.
Pallister urged all Manitobans to do their part to slow the spread of COVID-19 and help their fellow Manitobans during this difficult time.
“Donate blood. Help a senior shop. Shovel your neighbour’s walk. Do something to make sure you’re helping each other be kind to one another. Help one another,” he said.
“Together we can overcome any adversity.”
WATCH | Premier on why it’s important to flatten the curve:
There are two new dedicated COVID-19 testing sites open, one in Flin Flon in the Channing Auditorium in the Flin Flon Community Hall, 2 North Ave., Flin Flon, and one in The Pas, in Guy Hall, 28 First St. W.
Both sites will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Friday.
Some surgeries may be postponed as the province deals with the pandemic, if they can safely be delayed for three months, officials said.
No new cases were announced during Tuesday’s news conference.
There was one new presumptive case of COVID-19 announced by provincial health officials on Monday, bringing the total to one presumptive and seven confirmed COVID-19 cases that have been identified in Manitoba.
The latest case is in a man in his 80s who lives in Winnipeg.
The province has said that all cases that have been identified so far were related to travel, and there is no evidence the virus is spreading in the community in Manitoba.
Dr. Brent Roussin, the province’s top public health officer, again stressed that people must self-isolate for 14 days if they are returning home from international travel, and everyone should continue with social distancing measures.
“We are not helpless against this virus,” he said.
“Our preparation, our education with credible information, and then these actions that we’re outlining now, these social distancing actions, will reduce the impact of coronavirus in Manitoba.”
Daycare director ‘relieved’
MJ Farrow is relieved to hear her Stars of Promise daycare in northeast Winnipeg, where she is the director, can shut its doors.
Her board was planning an emergency meeting tonight to consider closing the facility. They were stressed about losing provincial funding if they shut down without government approval.
“I’m happy that they’re closing because I know it’s going to be a big relief for all the staff,” she said. “It’s just too bad that they didn’t do it for today.”
Scared for their safety, three of her staff asked to go home early this morning.
“We’ve had parents that have been [out of the country] and their children have come to the daycare,” Farrow said. “Now they’re self-isolating.”
WATCH | Full news conference on COVID-19 | March 17, 2020:
As of Tuesday, Canada reported a total of 466 cases, both confirmed and presumptive (which means only initial testing has been done).
Ontario reported its first COVID-19-related death on Tuesday: a man in his 70s at Royal Victoria Hospital in Barrie, a city about 100 kilometres north of Toronto.
This brings Canada’s COVID-19 death toll to five. Four COVID-19-related deaths have been recorded in British Columbia.
In Ontario, Premier Doug Ford declared a state of emergency Tuesday morning due to COVID-19. Ontario will order the closure of restaurants and bars, although they will still be allowed to do takeout and delivery, and prohibit gatherings of more than 50 people to prevent the spread of the virus.
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