‘Early signs’ of community transmission in Winnipeg

By | April 1, 2020

Public health officials are seeing early signs of community transmission of COVID-19 in Winnipeg, Dr. Brent Roussin says.

Officials have not been able to determine the source of transmission for four or five cases in the city, said Roussin, the chief provincial public health officer. 

“We knew to expect this. As more and more cases are introduced into a jurisdiction, community transmission is going to be inevitable,” Roussin said Wednesday.

“Now is the time to stay home. I can’t stress that enough.”

Manitoba has 24 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the province’s total to 127, Roussin said. 

Roussin said he could not speak to how the “pop-up cases,” or cases with no known transmission chain, were detected.

“As we get to this stage, we’re likely to see more and more cases daily,” he said.


Messaging from the province won’t change much now that community transmission has been detected, he said. The province has been urging the public to stay home for weeks.

Enhanced physical distancing strategies may be put in place in the future, he said.

Health-care workers at Grace Hospital and St. Boniface Hospital have been diagnosed with the disease, Roussin said.

No patients are believed to have been in contact with those cases, said Lanette Siragusa, chief nursing officer for Shared Health.

But numerous staff members have been identified as known contacts and been sent into self-isolation for 14 days, she said.

This has impacted staffing at the hospital.

“This news is very upsetting to us,” Siragusa said.

“These cases, though, should serve as a cautionary tale for all Manitobans, including health-care workers.”

‘Every possible measure’ to protect patients, staff

New screening procedures take effect on Wednesday for workers in acute and long-term care facilities, said Lanette Siragusa, chief nursing officer for Shared Health.

All staff arriving for the start of a shift must have their temperature taken and answer questions about symptoms, travel history and exposure to positive COVID-19 cases. Staff who are required to come and go during the course of their shift may be rescreened upon re-entry into facilities and service areas.

Four people are currently hospitalized for COVID-19 in Manitoba, including three in intensive care. Four people in the province have recovered from the disease.

The total number of deaths reported in Manitoba remains at one.

“We must ensure that we are taking every possible measure to ensure that our staff and our patients are protected,” Siragusa said.

On Tuesday, three cases of health-care workers sickened with the disease caused by the novel coronavirus were made public.

Public health officials confirmed a staff member in the Selkirk Regional Health Centre’s emergency department has COVID-19. The Manitoba Nurses Union also said Tuesday a Winnipeg emergency department nurse has tested positive.

A memo also was sent by Shared Health Manitoba to all staff at St. Boniface Hospital, informing them an employee who works in the echocardiography department tested positive.

The province is working on setting up temporary self-isolation options for people who have nowhere else to go, Siragusa said. They’re looking at hotels and motels, but are open to other options, she said.

Only people with COVID-19 who urgently need a place to self-isolate will be considered for the temporary sites, Siragusa said.

Cadham Provincial Laboratory completed 1,130 tests on Tuesday, Roussin said.  As of April 1, a total of 10,044 tests have been performed.

New inmates to be isolated

Roussin said he’s not aware of any COVID-19 cases in long-term care facilities or correctional institutions.

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