Two more Manitobans have lost their lives to COVID-19, provincial health officials say.
Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer, said the latest deaths are two women, one her 80s and another in her 90s, and both victims are linked to an ongoing outbreak at the Bethesda Place personal care home in Steinbach.
COVID-19 in three Manitoba care homes
“This comes as a real reminder that we have to stay on guard,” Roussin said.
The women’s deaths bring the total number of people who have died from the personal care home to four since an outbreak was declared at the facility Aug. 17. Seven workers and two additional residents have also tested positive for the novel coronavirus, Roussin said Thursday.
Roussin said the initial positive case at the home appears to have been a health-care worker who caught the virus in the community. The worker was asymptomatic and it doesn’t appear there was an issue with personal protective equipment, he added.
However, Roussin said many people working on the front line have been struggling with tight restrictions over long shifts.
“I think that over time, just like many other Manitobans, we can lose track of some of the fundamentals and some of the importance of the strictness of our rules,” he said.
Roussin also reported 20 new cases of the virus Thursday.
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The cases include six people from the Prairie Mountain Health region, one in the Interlake-Eastern health region, and 13 people in Winnipeg.
They bring province’s overall total of lab-confirmed novel coronavirus cases reported since March to 1,264. Manitoba currently has 457 active cases and there have now been 16 COVID-19-related deaths since the pandemic began, health officials said.
Health officials say there are currently 12 people in hospital with COVID-19, including one in intensive care, and the province’s current five-day COVID-19 test positivity rate is 1.3 per cent.
Roussin said nearly half of the cases reported in Winnipeg Thursday are close contacts to known cases. He has previously said there is evidence of community transmission in both Winnipeg and Brandon.
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Late in the day Wednesday, the City of Winnipeg confirmed one of its employees has tested positive for the virus.
In a statement, the city said the employee is part of the public works department, but does not have a public-facing job and works in areas where the public does not have access.
Earlier in the day on Wednesday, health officials said two previously identified cases in Winnipeg are linked to recent outbreaks at two local care homes: Fred Douglas Lodge and Beacon Hill Lodge. Close contacts are being identified and the investigation continues.
Both locations, the province said, have put in place additional safety measures to reduce the risk to staff and residents, and are restricting visits.
Outbreaks have also been declared at two personal care homes in Bradon, Hillcrest Place and Rideau Park Personal Care Home.
The province lifted visitation restrictions at long term care facilities in June.
On Thursday Roussin warned of a risk of exposure to COVID-19 possible at the ABC Taxi Cabs and Limousine Service at 144 12th St. in Brandon from Aug 19 through 21.
As case counts continue to climb in southern Manitoba the province is re-implementing travel restrictions to northern Manitoba and remote communities starting Friday.
There will be exceptions to the ban for work, health care and other matters.
With the long weekend coming up, Roussin said it’s important Manitobans return to the fundamentals of stopping the spread of COVID-19.
He said that includes staying home when ill, washing hands regularly, covering coughs, and physical distancing when out and with people outside your household. He says masks should be worn if you can’t physically distance.
Those travelling for the long weekend should gas up at home and make sure all supplies are packed to avoid making stops along the way, he said.
“We have to be alert at all times.”
–With files from The Canadian Press
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Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.
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