A woman in her 90s with COVID-19 has died, the second death linked to an outbreak of the illness at the Bethesda Place care home in Steinbach, Man., and the 14th connected to COVID-19 in Manitoba.
The woman who died was in hospital but not in intensive care, Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin said at a news conference Thursday.
Eight people linked to the care home, where an outbreak was declared on Aug. 17, have contracted the illness, Roussin said. That tally includes five staff, at least one of whom is a nurse, and three residents, two of whom have now died, he said.
A woman whose death was announced on Tuesday was the first fatality from Bethesda and Manitoba’s 13th fatality linked to COVID-19.
The first person linked to the care home known to have the illness was a staff member who tested positive for COVID-19 on Aug. 3, Roussin said.
Earlier Thursday, an outbreak of COVID-19 was declared at another Manitoba care home — the second in less than two weeks.
A health-care worker at the Rideau Park Personal Care Home in Brandon, Man., has tested positive for COVID-19. The employee wore personal protective equipment while working and is now self-isolating, Roussin said.
Rideau Park has now been moved to red, or critical, in the province’s colour-coded pandemic response system, he said. That means the personal care home is putting more precautionary measures in place and restricting visits to the facility.
So far, no other cases have been detected at the care home, but an outbreak has been declared “out of an abundance of caution,” said Blaine Kraushaar, a spokesperson for the Prairie Mountain Health region, where the home is located.
New public health orders will come into effect on Friday, requiring anyone with COVID-19 or exposed to the illness to self-isolate for 14 days, Roussin said.
People who don’t adhere to the new requirements can be fined $486 per day. The new rules come as a result of people not self-isolating when they should, he said.
While isolation was already required in those situations, the new order allows the province to fine people immediately if they break the rules, Roussin said, though health officials will still try other avenues to get people to self-isolate before issuing tickets.
“Education is our Number 1 tool here, because we know that there’s a disproportionate burden on some individuals,” he said.
“For the most part, we’re going to work with people to get them to self-isolate.”
People told to self-isolate by public health officials need to go home or to an approved isolation location and stay there for 14 days, or until they are told otherwise by public health, he said.
There can be exceptions made to isolation requirements so people can go to in-person appointments with health-care providers, Roussin said. But if a person told to self-isolate is allowed to leave home, they have to wear a face mask, maintain physical distancing and minimize their time away from where they’re isolating.
An exception to the exposure order will be made for health-care workers, Roussin said.
The order also may not apply to every student in a cohort where a person tests positive for the illness, he said. In those cases, public health officials will first determine close contacts.
22 new cases
Six people in Manitoba are currently in hospital with COVID-19, including one in intensive care.
There were 22 new cases of the illness announced in Manitoba on Thursday, and one case reported on Aug. 15 was removed from the province’s total cases, Roussin said.
Nine of Thursday’s new cases are in the Prairie Mountain Health region, six are in the Southern Health region and three are in the Interlake-Eastern health region.
Investigations found seven of the new cases are close contacts of a previously announced case of COVID-19, Roussin said. More information will be released when it’s available, he said.
The other four new cases are in the Winnipeg health region, where roughly 20 per cent of the region’s 97 active COVID-19 cases are now considered community spread, Roussin said.
The province has considered separating data on Winnipeg cases into smaller regions, though Roussin said it’s unlikely the extra detail would be helpful, since cases are reported based on where a person lives, but not necessarily where they spend their time working or out in the community.
“They might live in the north, they might work in the south, they might have family in the west,” he said. “It really doesn’t add a whole bunch.”
As of Thursday, 75 workers at the Maple Leaf Foods pork processing plant in Brandon, Man., have tested positive for COVID-19, Roussin said. Forty-one of those cases are still active, he said.
There have been discrepancies recently between the number of cases linked to the plant provided by the province and that given by the company.
Roussin on Thursday said that’s because that information takes longer to move through the province’s channels — from the initial report to the investigation to surveillance, which puts together the reports for public health officials to announce — than it does for the company to hear the news from an employee.
Manitoba’s five-day test positivity rate is now three per cent, down slightly from the record 3.1 per cent on Wednesday, Roussin said.
The higher rate is affected by positive results linked to targeted testing in known COVID-19 clusters, he said.
There are now 407 active cases of the illness in Manitoba.
To date, 643 people in Manitoba have recovered from COVID-19, and 1,064 cases of the illness have been detected in the province.
On Wednesday, 1,429 more COVID-19 tests were completed in Manitoba, bringing the total done in the province since early February to 130,835.
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