Manitoba health minister says state of emergency 'not off the table'
WINNIPEG -- A new COVID-19 testing site is set to open in Winnipeg on Bison Drive at an MPI centre’s claims garage.
On Thursday, Health Minister Cameron Friesen said the province will have new information coming on when that centre is set to open.
Manitoba Public Insurance said the Bison Service Centre, located at 15 Barnes Street, will close effective Thursday to make way for the new drive-thru testing site.
MPI said all customer appointments at this location will be cancelled, and people affected by the cancellations will be contacted directly with alternative options.
Staff at the centre will be assigned to other locations, or will work from home, MPI said.
“I want to thank MPI for their community leadership and cooperation with this effort,” said Crown Services Minister Jeff Wharton in a news release. “These are challenging times, but we are all in this together and will overcome this challenge stronger than ever before.”
MPI said the new testing centre will work on a referral basis, with people required to contact Health Links for screening to determine if they should be tested.
There are currently nine community screening sites across the province, including one that opened Brandon on Wednesday. The province said a drive-through site is set to open in Steinbach on Friday. It will be open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
During a news conference on Thursday, Health Minister Cameron Friesen said more locations will open in the future, and that the province is considering all options in terms of the ongoing response to COVID-19.
As for calling a state of emergency, he said “it’s not off the table.”
The efforts being taken by the province are for a very important reason, said Friesen: to flatten the curve of COVID-19.
“We need compliance of Manitobans,” he said. “We need their cooperation.”
Friesen said the province has received 23 additional ventilators, bringing the total to 266. There are 16 others that were ordered last week and expected to be delivered in the coming weeks.
The total of lab-confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 remains at 17 as of Thursday morning. Friesen noted the rise in numbers is because the system is working and the province is undertaking testing.
“Our job, of course, is to make sure that as those numbers rise, people know what to do to keep themselves safe,” he said.
Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer, said of these 17 cases, one has been hospitalized with mild symptoms and is in stable condition.
He said more than 3,200 tests have been done at Cadham Provincial Lab.
Roussin said to reduce the spread of the virus, day programs through the community living disability services for adults with intellectual disabilities have been asked to limit the service. It will only be offered to people who live with family members who could lose their job if the services are discontinued, are supported by home-care providers who can’t provide care during daytime hours where other arrangements aren’t possible and can’t be safely supported in their homes during the day.
“We will take any steps necessary to protect the health of Manitobans,” he said.
- With files from CTV’s Michelle Gerwing.