A Winnipeg man in his 50s has been confirmed as the second COVID-19-related fatality in Manitoba, just over three weeks after the pandemic hit the province and its first cases were identified.
The man had underlying health conditions and had been admitted to an intensive care unit before he died, Dr. Brent Roussin, the province’s chief public health officer, said Friday.
“These are challenging times for us all. We’re seeing our case numbers continually grow. We are seeing severe outcomes, which is quite distressing to many Manitobans,” he said.
“But again, this is not the time for fear. This is the time for our actions.”
The province announced 15 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, bringing Manitoba’s total of confirmed and probable cases to 182.
Nine people are in hospital for the deadly disease caused by the novel coronavirus as of Friday, Roussin said, six of whom are in intensive care.
There are now six cases in the province currently believed to be “pop-up” cases of community transmission, where public health officials have not been able to identify a known transmission chain. Roussin said investigation into one of those cases is still in its early stages.
On Friday, a second Manitoba care home confirmed one of its staff members has tested positive for COVID-19.
Actionmarguerite St-Vital said the infected staff member’s last day at work at the care home was Monday, and that it is monitoring residents for symptoms of COVID-19.
Roussin said he hadn’t received a report about that case Friday, but expected to have more information to provide on Saturday.
On Thursday, public health officials announced nine residents of a Gimli care home were showing symptoms and being tested for COVID-19, after a worker at the Betel Home Gimli tested positive for the disease.
Seven of those nine patients have now tested negative for COVID-19, Roussin said Friday.
A patient at Riverview Health Centre also tested positive, Roussin said. Public health officials believe no other patients were exposed.
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As of Friday, roughly 100 staff from Winnipeg’s Health Sciences Centre are self-isolating after exposure to COVID-19, according to reports from unions, including 29 members of the Manitoba Association of Health Care Professionals, which represents respiratory and occupational therapists.
Four nurses at the hospital have tested positive for COVID-19 following the exposure, according to the Manitoba Nurses Union. The province has not confirmed the union’s report.
On Friday, Lanette Siragusa, chief nursing officer for Shared Health, said she wasn’t aware of the exact number of health-care workers in self-isolation because it’s constantly changing.
“There’s no doubt that having those people in self-isolation does challenge the system, but they are always looking at solutions,” she said.
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Manitoba’s health-care system has received donations of 2,570 N95 masks, 3,110 surgical and procedure masks, 9,300 gloves and 202 bottles of hand sanitizer, the province said Friday.
“Working together is how the province is going to get through this,” Siragusa said.
‘These are Manitobans that we’ve lost’
Roussin was once again asked Friday about expanding Manitoba’s restrictions on who can get tested to include people who are not showing symptoms of COVID-19.
Testing those people would not be reliable, he said, because someone without symptoms who has the new coronavirus may test negative while the virus is incubating.
“There’s no benefit in testing a person without symptoms,” he said.
Nearly 12,000 tests for COVID-19 have been completed by the province’s Cadham lab, including 634 Thursday.
There are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in any of Manitoba’s First Nations, Roussin said Friday. First Nations were among communities hit hard by H1N1 in 2009.
Roussin said he’s not aware of how many people living in First Nations have been tested for the disease. He had previously said tests from First Nations are being prioritized at Cadham.
There are currently no dedicated testing sites in Manitoba’s First Nations. Conversations are underway to about setting one up, Siragusa said, and details will be released in the coming days.
When asked how the province compares to other COVID-19-impacted communities, Roussin said Manitoba has been consistent with other jurisdictions, with roughly 15 to 20 per cent of patients experiencing serious illness and a case fatality rate of one to two per cent.
“None of this is a statistic for us,” he said. “These are Manitobans that we’ve lost.”
Public health experts and front-line workers are working around the clock to prevent further deaths, he said. He repeated his plea to Manitobans to help curb the spread of the virus.
“By staying home, we are interrupting the transmission of this virus. [By] staying home and practising social distancing, all Manitobans are doing their part to limit the number of days like today,” he said.
“We all have a role in preventing days like today.”
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