Manitoba has extended public health orders shutting down non-essential businesses and limiting public gatherings for an additional two weeks.
Dr. Brent Roussin, the province’s chief public health officer, announced the extension of the orders under the province’s Public Health Act on Monday, in an effort to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
The orders, which were introduced on March 30, were previously set to expire on Tuesday. They are now set to expire on April 28.
Under the current rules, bars, hair salons and massage therapy offices are shut down and restaurants are officially banned from serving eat-in service.
Businesses are allowed to do repairs, provide security services or take items out of a closed business establishment if that business is going to operate on a remote basis.
The province is likely to enhance the orders later this week, Roussin said. He declined to provide specifics of what that could look like.
Four new cases of COVID-19 were announced Monday, bringing the province’s total to 246.
“We have to keep this up, or we will see those numbers climb again,” Roussin said.
Roussin said Monday physical distancing measures are expected to be in place into the summer. However, he said they’re unlikely to be as restrictive as they are now.
But for now, Roussin said the key takeaway for Manitobans must be to stay the course with physical distancing.
“I think we’re at a critical juncture,” Roussin said. “These type of restrictions, we’re looking to roll them back as soon as possible.”
The province’s active caseload is at 143 as of Monday. Nineteen new cases were announced over the long weekend.
“We are still early in this outbreak. But these numbers show that our efforts are having some benefit,” Roussin said.
“These numbers certainly are remaining low, but that could change if we loosen up on our strategies at this point.”
Eight people are in hospital, including four in intensive care units.
Rapid testing to be validated starting Tuesday
Manitoba will begin validating a new, rapid test for COVID-19 on Tuesday, Roussin said. The portable genetic test was approved by Health Canada earlier Monday morning.
Roussin said health officials are looking at using the test in hospitals, and possibly in remote areas.
“We’re looking at a lot of avenues for that,” he said.
The province is looking at expanding testing in the future, Roussin said. When that happens, high-priority categories may include additional symptomatic critical workers and symptomatic members of the public.
The province’s Cadham Provincial Laboratory has completed 17,245 tests since early February. The lab completed 32 tests on Easter Sunday, Roussin said.
“These numbers reflect the decreased demand for testing over the Easter weekend,” he said.
Four Manitobans with COVID-19 have died since the pandemic began. Ninety-nine people have recovered.
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