New restrictions for Prairie Mountain Health start Monday after COVID-19 continues to spread

By | August 20, 2020

Manitoba’s Prairie Mountain Health region will face more restrictions as it moves to the orange level under the province’s new pandemic response system, Dr. Brent Roussin says.

Starting Monday, gathering sizes in the western Manitoba area will be restricted to 10 and masks will be mandatory in public places, Roussin said at a news conference Thursday.

The group sizes won’t apply to workplaces, retail outlets or other sites already covered under other parts of the province’s reopening plans, Roussin said.

The mask requirement will apply to all indoor and outdoor public gatherings, though there will still be exceptions for medical reasons, he said.

More details on the specifics of the new public health orders will come over the next few days, he said.

The province unveiled a new colour-coded system on Wednesday that will allow the government to introduce COVID-19 restrictions that target specific regions, communities or industries in Manitoba.

There were 33 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Manitoba on Thursday, 17 of them in the Prairie Mountain Health region, Roussin said.

Another 10 are in the Southern Health region, while six are in the Winnipeg health area, he said.

Some of Manitoba’s more recently announced COVID-19 cases have been linked to the kind of large, outdoor events that will be affected by the new health orders starting Monday, Roussin said.

He repeated that people in the province seem to have lost track of the fundamentals of physical distancing that kept Manitoba’s caseload low.

“It’s easy to see why. It’s only human, that we’ve been through a lot — challenging times — and it’s a beautiful Manitoba summer, and people want to get out and do things and see their friends and family,” he said.

“But we know that this is the result, that this virus is spread from close, prolonged contact, and so we need to increase that level of restriction right now, before things get out of hand.”

Manitoba’s five-day test positivity rate, a rolling average of the COVID-19 tests that come back positive, jumped to 1.9 per cent on Thursday from 1.6 per cent on Wednesday.

Thursday’s new cases brought the province’s active caseload to 247, and its total cases to 796.

To date, 537 people in Manitoba have recovered from COVID-19, Roussin said.

The number of people with COVID-19 in the province’s hospitals was not updated on Thursday because of a technical issue, Roussin said. That number will be updated in future news bulletins.

On Wednesday, there were six people in hospital, including two in intensive care.

Public health officials also announced two more possible COVID-19 exposures that happened in the province on Aug. 8. One was at Manipogo Provincial Park, located off Highway 276 on Lake Manitoba, and the other was at a soccer field at 930 First St. in Brandon, Man.

The risk of transmission is considered low, but the information is being provided to help people assess their own risk, the province said in a news bulletin.

On Wednesday, officials announced the 12th death in Manitoba linked to the new coronavirus. It was the fourth fatality connected to COVID-19 the province reported in less than a week: two others were announced on Tuesday and one on Saturday. Before that, Manitoba had not recorded a death linked to the illness since mid-July.

Premier Brian Pallister also announced Wednesday that face masks will be mandatory in Manitoba schools for students from grades 4 to 12, taking what was previously only a strong recommendation one step further. Masks will now be required for students in those grades wherever physical distancing isn’t possible.

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