Manitobans will no longer need a referral from Health Links or a health-care provider to get tested for COVID-19 as of Thursday.
People with symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose, fatigue, headaches, nausea or loss of appetite should use the online assessment tool to determine if they need testing.
Anyone who meets the criteria should get tested for the virus, Lanette Siragusa, chief nursing officer for Shared Health, said at a news conference on Wednesday.
“Even those mild symptoms should be tested.”
Siragusa says Health Links was involved in referring patients to be tested until now because of strict eligibility criteria.
But that’s changed recently, and the province has increased its testing capacity to as many as 2,000 people per day.
It’s “a convenient and practical thing to do” to make it easier for people with symptoms to be tested, Siragusa said.
WATCH | Lanette Siragusa on new COVID-19 testing guidelines:
There were no new cases of COVID-19 in Manitoba to report Wednesday, Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin said.
The total confirmed and probable cases in the province remains at 290.
Four people are currently in hospital, including one in intensive care.
There are 32 people who currently have the coronavirus and 251 people have recovered.
An additional 527 tests were done in the province Tuesday, bringing the total number of tests since early February to 31,946.
Roussin has a strong message for those with any symptoms of COVID-19.
“No one who’s even mildly ill should be travelling out. It’s very, very important,” he said.
Any Manitobans planning trips to the cabin or cottage during the May long weekend should be careful even if they don’t have symptoms, Roussin said.
“Certainly it’s not back to normal,” he said. “There’s a lot of precautions people still need to take.”
Similarly, anyone hoping to meet up with friends on the weekend needs to plan carefully.
“Meeting up with a couple people outside, physical distancing, that’s a lower risk activity,” he said.
Roussin also provided an update on the status of the outbreak at the Brandon location of Paul’s Hauling, a trucking company.
On Tuesday, officials announced an additional case of COVID-19 connected with that workplace, bringing the total to 11.
On Wednesday, though, Roussin said a presumed positive linked to the outbreak turned out to be negative, so the number cases associated with that Brandon outbreak is 10.
One person from the cluster is in hospital, and three of the 10 have recovered.
The one Manitoban who is in intensive care is not linked to the cluster in Brandon, Roussin said.
Meanwhile, Manitobans waiting for diagnostic imaging appointments to be rescheduled may get their wish.
Siragusa says those tests will be ramped up and about 2,000 postponed appointments will be rescheduled in the coming weeks.
Many non-urgent surgeries and diagnostic tests were postponed at the start of the coronavirus outbreak, to free up resources for a possible surge in COVID-19 cases.
The province has said it is now working to catch up on that backlog of surgeries and tests.
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