WINNIPEG -- Manitoba could be following Saskatchewan’s lead when it comes to reopening non-essential businesses.

During Thursday’s COVID-19 update, Dr. Brent Roussin, the province’s chief provincial public health officer, said the province is working on finalizing plans to begin lifting public health orders and start reopening some non-essential businesses.

“I don’t have specific dates on that, but we too, if our numbers remain like this, we’re looking towards May as well to be able to start loosening some of the restrictions,” he said.

On Thursday, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe announced the province will begin planning to reopen non-essential businesses in phases across Saskatchewan starting May 4.

“The details on what exactly that will look like, we’re still working it out, still following those numbers daily, but that’s the type of timeframe we’re looking at now.”

Manitoba announced five new cases of COVID-19 in the province on Thursday, bringing the total to 262.

Of those cases, 82 are listed as active, while 174 are considered recovered.

“We can’t make much out of single days like this, we want to continue to follow the trend,” he said. “When we see a number of cases, it’s not the case count that we’re looking at, we’re going to be interested in seeing if these are cases that are connected to known contacts.

“There may be household contacts in here, which makes the significance to community-based transmission much less, so we want to look at the trends over time and the nature of acquisition as well.”

Roussin said seven people remain hospitalized, with two people in intensive care.

The total number of deaths remains at six.

Roussin urged Manitobans who are eligible to get tested for the virus if they’re able to.

“Our testing capacity has increased, and many more people are now eligible to be tested,” he said. “We’re receiving far fewer samples than we have the capacity to run, so we encourage symptomatic Manitobans who meet our criteria to be tested.”

Since February, a total of 21,387 tests for the virus have been conducted at Cadham Provincial Laboratory. On Wednesday, a total of 327 tests were completed.

The total tests reported on Wednesday as incorrect, Roussin said. The actual total was 21,061.


With the holy month of Ramadan beginning Thursday night, Roussin urged those marking the occasion to do so differently to preserve physical distancing.

“Do so virtually, staying home with your immediate family members, because it’s the best way to protect yourself, the people around you, and the community at large,” he said.