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Most of 27 new COVID-19 cases outside Winnipeg

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Manitoba has reported 27 new cases of COVID-19 since Saturday, but officials are playing down the risk to the general public.

Of the recent cases, 25 are related to travel or known virus clusters and their contacts, while two cases continue to be investigated.

Manitoba has reported 117 cases of COVID-19 in the last 30 days including several outbreaks in Hutterite colonies.

Manitoba has reported 117 cases of COVID-19 in the last 30 days including several outbreaks in Hutterite colonies.

The most recent data for this period includes 26 cases acquired from travel, 10 cases from unknown community acquisition and 67 from close contact with a travel or community transmission case. There are 14 cases that remain under investigation.

Origin of recent COVID-19 cases in Manitoba

"What that should demonstrate to Manitobans is that this continues to be a risk, at this point in time, more due to the fact that there might be people coming here from other places," Health Minister Cameron Friesen told a media briefing Tuesday. "Part of that is just the acceptable risk we must have knowing that our supply chains remain open."

Most of the recent cases occurred outside of Winnipeg. They include, 10 new cases in Prairie Mountain Health region, two in Interlake-Eastern Health region, 12 new cases in Southern Health and three in the Winnipeg health region.

There could soon be stricter or looser pandemic restrictions on Manitobans depending on where they live. Friesen said the government is planning regional responses to COVID-19 based on the severity of the virus in each area.

Ontario already has such a system in place.

"If we have something happen in (the) southwest part of Manitoba, it should not necessitate...that we close the northeast part of Manitoba," Friesen told reporters.

He said details on how to implement such as system are now being hammered out, and he's hoping to announce something "soon."

Current infection rates vary considerably from one region to another in Manitoba. There are currently no active COVID-19 cases in the Northern Health region. In the Interlake-Eastern region there are 42. In Winnipeg, there are 15.

The guiding principle behind any new system would be public safety, Friesen promised.

The total number of cases in Manitoba now stands at 442. On Monday, one was removed as it was a duplicate and from another jurisdiction, the province said.

Nine Manitobans are currently in hospital with COVID-19, while four are in intensive care. Officials said all current ICU patients with the virus are linked to a close contact of a known case.

Manitoba now has 94 active coronavirus cases compared to just one on July 13. The Winnipeg health region is one of the least affected for the size of its population.

With the weekend cases factored in, there are 1.91 active cases per 100,000 population in Winnipeg, compared with 31.79 in Interlake-Eastern, 11.66 in Prairie Mountain, and 7.70 in Southern Health. There are no active cases in the Northern Health region.

Several cases reported over the weekend in Steinbach can be traced to a single household, Friesen said.

"It’s still appropriate to move around the community and conduct your business and go places," he said of the city southeast of Winnipeg. "If it were otherwise, we would be clearly saying so today."

Chart showing daily cumulative counts and status of positive COVID-19 cases

Friesen was questioned about the absence of government information surrounding the relatively large number of new cases over the weekend.

While the province is reducing the number of media briefings to once per week, Friesen said they could increase in frequency if the need arises.

"We want to be accountable to Manitobans the best way we can, and having good information on a prompt basis is one way to do that," he said.

NDP Leader Wab Kinew said Tuesday it's important that the government be more open and transparent in disclosing information about new cases.

While there was a significant jump in cases over the weekend, Manitobans heard more details from private businesses such as Smitty's, Boston Pizza and Facebook than from its own government, he said.

Kinew said the government should provide as much detail as it can about the location of new cases, including more precise information within health regions, which are often enormous in size.

Prairie Mountain Health, for example, stretches from Swan River in western Manitoba all the way to the American border. "So, there's a huge difference whether there's a case in Dauphin or Brandon, Boissevain or Swan River," Kinew said.

The province identified two new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, 18 on Sunday, five on Monday and two as of 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday.

The current five-day test positivity rate is 0.46 per cent.

A large number of laboratory tests continue to be conducted each day, with 1,803 performed on Friday, 1,354 on Saturday, 1,090 on Sunday and 1,034 on Monday.

Meanwhile, health officials revealed for the first time on Tuesday that the man in his 70s from Southern Health who last week became the eighth Manitoban to die of the coronavirus, had underlying health conditions.

Larry Kusch

Larry Kusch
Legislature Reporter

Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.

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