WINNIPEG -- Avoid nonessential travel both in and out of the province—that is the message of Manitoba's top doctor after a returning traveller implicated five separate households because they did not self-isolate.

Dr. Brent Roussin, the chief provincial public health officer, said there was a case that returned to Manitoba last week after travelling out west, but did not self-isolate.

He said that decision has implicated five separate households now.

"These are preventable," Roussin said. "We have those restrictions and requirements in place for a reason, this very reason."

But scofflaw travellers are not the only cause of transmission within the province. Roussin said public health is seeing cases with many more contacts – which is causing more transmission.

According to surveillance data from March 28 to April 3 (the most recent data available), the province said one case in Winnipeg had 57 close contacts, while another case in Southern Health had 33 close contacts.

"We've tried to message how important it is for people to follow the fundamentals to reduce the amount of contacts," Roussin said.

"If we don't act now, we will be right back into stricter restrictions very, very soon."

According to the province's surveillance data, from March 28 to April 3 more than half (52.7 per cent) of the COVID-19 infections are close contacts to cases. The top type of contacts is household exposures.

Roussin said there have been more issues of gatherings in private residences and travellers ignoring self-isolation requirements.

Current health orders require all people returning or coming into Manitoba to self-isolate for 14 days, and are strongly advised to get two COVID-19 tests—one on the day they arrive, and another 10 days after they arrive regardless of symptoms.

The province also strongly advises getting tested before travelling to First Nations and northern communities.

"If you don't have to travel right now—whether it is in the province or outside the province—don't travel," Roussin said. "We're in a third wave now. Most of the country has been in the third wave, so there is no reason to travel for nonessential reasons right now."

Manitoba's self-isolation requirements currently do not apply for some essential services such as health-care providers and truckers who travel for essential reasons. 

More information about Manitoba's travel and self-isolation requirements can be found online