Manitoba’s spike in COVID-19 cases is cluster, not second wave, says top doctor

By | July 29, 2020

The surge in new COVID-19 cases over the past two weeks in Manitoba is not a second wave of the pandemic, but it is a strong reminder we are far from being in the clear, the province’s chief public health officer says.

“We need to remind ourselves we’re not done with this virus, and I think these number of cases that have popped up are doing that,” Dr. Brent Roussin told CBC Manitoba’s Information Radio host Marcy Markusa on Wednesday.

On July 13, there was one active case in the province while the total number of cases identified since the pandemic began was at 325. Manitoba was on a 13-day streak of no new cases.

That all changed the following day, when five new cases were announced. Since then, Manitoba has had 80 new cases, one of which led to a death.

Despite the surge in cases, Roussin said he does not classify it as second wave.

“We had a relatively short period with very low numbers, but this transmission is still ongoing around the world,” he said. “This is another cluster.”

Manitoba’s total number of cases since mid-March is now 405. Of those, 319 have recovered.

There are 78 active cases, including three people who are in hospital — two of those in intensive care. A total of eight people have died from COVID-19 in the province.

Manitoba has been moving toward reopening its borders and economic activity, with Phase 4 kicking in last Saturday. Premier Brian Pallister had announced a draft plan for Phase 4 that included relaxing the 14-day self-isolation requirement for travellers from eastern and southern Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada.

Pushback from Manitobans prompted the province to postpone that part of the plan.

Asked at the time he announced the draft plan, Pallister said it was important to open things up in order to boost the economy and get people working again.

“We can’t live our life fearful,” he said then.

However, on Wednesday, Roussin said it’s not out of the question that restrictions could be tightened once again for all visitors if the case counts continue to rise.

Back in mid-June, the borders were reopened to people coming to Manitoba from Western Canada, the territories, and Ontario west of Terrace Bay.

“People should be aware that we’re monitoring that and things could change with it with out orders,” Roussin said. “It kind of goes without saying we’ve had to all be flexible and adjust to what we’re seeing around us.

“So that sure could be an option — that we could again put those self-isolation requirements on again for inter-provincial travel. We want to use the least restrictive means, but we’re going to protect the health of Manitobans.”

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