Cases of COVID-19 in Winnipeg continued to climb on Thursday, when provincial officials announced nine new cases of the illness in the city, among a total of 15 new cases in Manitoba.
That update brings the number of active cases in the city to 163, making up just under half of the province’s total of 360.
“Most of the driving force is household contacts and contact between households,” Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin said at a news conference Thursday.
However, roughly 20 per cent of the city’s cases are now linked to community spread; over the past week, 22 new cases in Winnipeg were identified with no known origin.
In addition to the nine Winnipeg cases, two new cases were announced in each of the Interlake-Eastern, Prairie Mountain and Southern health regions.
Several of the new cases are close contacts of known cases of COVID-19, Roussin said.
Two cases were also removed from the province’s total on Thursday. One was determined to be someone from outside the province and the other was a duplicate, Roussin said. That brings the province’s total number of cases to 1,378.
With the spread of COVID-19 within households driving up Winnipeg’s case count, more detailed information coming this week could show important trends about exactly where transmission is happening.
The province says as of Friday, it will break down new cases in the city into one of 12 separate districts.
That change, announced earlier this week, comes in response to demand from Manitobans for more specific geographic data about the city’s COVID-19 cases. The province has previously treated all of Winnipeg as a single health district, among a total of 68 health districts provincewide.
The province has also committed to releasing enough information about cases in schools to let people know which cohorts are affected, Roussin said Thursday, following Manitoba’s first case of COVID-19 in a school.
But there’s also a downside to releasing that information, Roussin said. In the school case announced Wednesday, the asymptomatic Churchill High School student did everything they were supposed to — but has still been subject to intense scrutiny, which could have negative side effects.
“There is that importance for this individual,” Roussin said. “But it’s also important for the next individual who has, say, mild symptoms, who’s going to think twice about going for testing because of the level of scrutiny.”
The risk of contagion in the school is low, because the student practised physical distancing and wore a mask, he said.
While cases like this highlight the possible benefit of asymptomatic testing, Roussin said, people without COVID-19 symptoms still aren’t being advised to get tested, unless a test is recommended by public health officials.
“You’re going to find these sort of anecdotal [cases], where it may have provided benefit,” he said. “But for this to really work, you have to be doing routine asymptomatic testing on a large scale, and it’s just not feasible to do that.”
No new cases of COVID-19 have been detected at any of the personal care homes or health-care centres that have brought in outbreak protocols in Manitoba since the province last updated those numbers on Tuesday.
Roussin also said Thursday that people diagnosed with COVID-19 now only need to self-isolate for 10 days in Manitoba, down from the mandatory two-week isolation previously required.
Manitoba will extend its COVID-19 state of emergency for the sixth time, starting at 4 p.m., a news release from the province said. The extension will last 30 days.
There are now 11 people in hospital with COVID-19 in Manitoba, including three in intensive care. Manitoba’s five-day test positivity rate is now 1.2 per cent.
To date, 1,002 people in Manitoba have recovered from COVID-19; 16 people have died.
The province announced two more potential COVID-19 exposure locations on Thursday. One was at the Lilac Resort on the Trans-Canada Highway near Ste. Anne, Man., from Sept. 1 to 3.
The other was on Air Canada Flight AC 295 from Winnipeg to Vancouver on Sept. 5. People sitting in rows 19 to 25 need to self-isolate for 14 days following the flight and watch for symptoms. Anyone who was on the flight, but not in the affected rows, should watch for symptoms.
The COVID-19 test site at the Keystone Centre in Brandon will close permanently after Sept. 12, the province said.
On Wednesday, 1,173 more COVID-19 tests were done in the province, bringing the total done in Manitoba since early February to 150,350.
WATCH | Full news conference on COVID-19 | Sept. 10, 2020:
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