Manitobans get more detailed data on where COVID-19 cases are in most of the province — but not in Winnipeg

By | August 13, 2020

Manitobans now have a more detailed look at where new COVID-19 cases are located in most of the province — but not for Winnipeg.

On Thursday, the province began indicating on its online COVID-19 data portal specific districts in each of its five health regions where cases have been identified.

For the previous five months since the coronavirus emerged in Manitoba, health officials have only released case details by health region, most of which cover a vast area.

The new breakdown offers Manitobans a chance to see the number of currently active and recovered cases in 68 districts. Deaths are also shown for each district.

The detailed breakdown can be found in the “Cases by RHA [regional health authority]” pane of the provincial COVID-19 dashboard. Clicking on the “Cases by District” tab at the bottom of the pane will show the more detailed breakdown.

For instance, the Prairie Mountain Health region district breakdown now reveals there are 80 active cases in Brandon, four in Spruce Woods, three in Dauphin, and one case each in the Little Saskatchewan, Turtle Mountain and Riding Mountain districts, as of Thursday afternoon. Three other cases in that health region are listed as being in an “unknown district.”

The top half shows the new ‘district’ breakdowns in the Prairie Mountain Health Region on the province’s COVID-19 dashboard website, with totals for areas including Brandon, Little Saskatchewan and Spruce Woods. The bottom half of the image includes no such breakdown for the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, showing only the categories ‘Winnipeg Urban’ and ‘Unknown District.’ Red bars stand for active cases, blue for recovered and green for deaths. (Province of Manitoba)

The new system does not offer more granular geographical details than that — for instance, it does not identify cases at the neighbourhood or street level.

That means for the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, which comprises the most densely populated area in the province and includes the northern town of Churchill, Manitobans see only one specific district, defined as “Winnipeg Urban.” The dashboard currently shows 32 active cases in that district, but also identifies two others in an “unknown district” of Winnipeg.

The dashboard also appears to only display districts or communities with active or past cases, and does not show districts where no cases have been officially reported.

For example, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin said Thursday the Northern Health region has been subdivided into 15 districts — yet currently, only two districts — where recovered cases have been reported — are visible.

Earlier in the week, Health Minister Cameron Friesen promised the more detailed breakdown was coming to help Manitobans get a better sense of the spread of the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.

He also said health officials had to balance privacy concerns against the public desire for information.

“We don’t think there’s any benefit in someone knowing that someone has COVID-19 that lives four blocks down from you or down the street,” Friesen said Monday.

Roussin announced 25 new cases in Manitoba on Thursday, most of them in the Prairie Mountain and Southern health regions, where separate clusters continue to grow. Four cases announced in Winnipeg are children under the age of nine. 

The province also announced more details for its back-to-school plans Thursday.

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