Manitoba's top doctor hints more details on health orders coming Tuesday
Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba chief public health officer, listen to a media question during the province's latest COVID-19 update at the Manitoba legislature in Winnipeg Friday, October 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
WINNIPEG -- Manitoba is seeing an 'encouraging' trend in COVID-19 cases and now the province's top doctor says he is eyeing a cautious and continuous reopening, but was mum on the details.
On Monday Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba's chief public health officer, reported four more Manitobans had died related to COVID-19.
Three of these deaths were linked to outbreaks at personal care homes, including a man in his 80s from the Northern Health Region whose death is linked to the outbreak at Rod McGillivary Memorial Care Home, a man in his 60s from Winnipeg whose death is linked to the outbreak at the Southeast Personal Care Home, and a woman in her 70s from Winnipeg whose death is linked to the outbreak at Concordia Place.
The death of a woman in her 80s from Winnipeg was linked to the outbreak at the Health Science Centre WRS3.
These most recent deaths bring the total number of COVID-19-related deaths in Manitoba to 773.
Along with the deaths, the province reported 118 new cases, bringing the five-day test positivity rate to 10.6 per cent provincially.
The majority of Monday's cases were reported in the Northern Health Region which had 46 new cases, and the Winnipeg Health Region which had 45 new cases. The five-day test positivity rate in Winnipeg is 7.3 per cent.
The remaining cases reported on Monday include:
- 11 cases in the Interlake-Eastern health region;
- seven cases in the Prairie Mountain Health region; and
- nine cases in the Southern Health–Santé Sud health region.
These cases bring the total number of cases Manitoba has seen since the start of the pandemic to 27,629 cases.
"Today's numbers continue to be encouraging. We definitely are not out of the woods. We certainly have a long way to go before we can return to normal," Roussin said. "If we let up now, if we increase the amount of close contacts we have, we are going to see those numbers climb again."
He said the province will soon start its reopening process. Roussin would not release any specific details about what these new health orders will include but hinted Manitobans will learn more on Tuesday.
"We need to do it in a continuous fashion, in a cautious fashion," he said. "We don't want to yo-yo. We don't want openings and then require closures again if our numbers get high. So we are going to do so very cautiously."
Roussin said public health would like to see Manitoba return to a regional approach to health orders when appropriate, but said this can be a challenge as there is a lot of mobility within the province.
Manitoba's current round of health orders is set to expire on Friday. The province has been requesting feedback from the public on what they would like to see reopen. Manitobans can complete a survey online at EngageMB.ca.
Roussin said both daily case numbers and hospitalization numbers have improved and are trending in the right direction. However, he said there are still many reasons to be cautious.
"One is there is still that demand on our health-care system," he said.
There were 289 people in hospital on Monday, including 135 people who had active cases of COVID-19, while 154 people had COVID-19 but were no longer infectious. Of the 35 people in intensive care, there were 23 people who had active cases and 12 people who were no longer infectious but still needed critical care.
"We do think that we are in a position to start with some of the loosening of restrictions," he said. "Absolutely, we need to be very cautious."
The province said 3,108 people have active cases of COVID-19, and 23,748 people have recovered. Roussin said the province is back in a 'containment mode' in dealing with the pandemic, but he said it will be a while before Manitobans can get a return to their normal lives.
"We are many months away from a place where we can start thinking about getting back to anything resembling being normal," he said.
"Make no mistake, there is going to be an end to this pandemic. We are going to get out of this, but for the next many months, we're going to have to continue to be vigilant."
The province said 1,322 tests were completed on Sunday, bringing the total number of tests completed since early February 2020 to 453,481.