Hutterite colonies in Manitoba are bracing for the spread of the new coronavirus after 10 infections were identified in three communities over the weekend.
Dr Brent Roussin, provincial public health official, said 20 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in Hutterite settlements across the province and more cases are expected, including in other communities.
“We will see more cases from our clusters. There are a lot of contacts there and a lot of people have been tested, a lot of people are self-isolating, ”Roussin said on Monday.
“We’re going to do what we can to make sure these are isolated, and with these different contacts, we want to limit any further transmission,” he said.
In total, the province announced 18 new cases of COVID-19 at 9:30 a.m. on Monday; that includes seven cases reported over the weekend.
One person is hospitalized in intensive care, Roussin said. The total number of deaths in Manitoba remains at seven, while the number of active cases has risen to 29 from the single-digit number of cases reported a week ago.
Among the new cases, 10 come from Hutterite colonies; two are related to travel; one is a truck driver; three are in close contact with a confirmed case; and two have not yet been determined. The new cases have been announced in all health regions except the North Regional Health Authority.
The outbreak on the Hutterite settlements has been linked to the trip to Alberta, Roussin said. However, it is not yet clear where a person caught the virus, as it cannot be linked to travel or close contact with a confirmed case.
Roussin said it was too early to say how many more people could be infected with the virus in affected communities; however, in Manitoba, about 14% of people identified as close contact with a confirmed case develop symptoms.
“We recognize that our communities have a certain vulnerability because of our way of life. Everyone is on alert. ” – Mark Waldner, Hutterite Security Council
“When you have this stretch of zeros that we’ve made, it’s certainly human nature to lose a little bit of focus on what brought us here, but these cases that we’re seeing now are a reminder that this virus is still here. , if we leave our guard down, he could start again, ”Roussin said.
Mark Waldner, of the Hutterian Safety Council, said settlements with active cases are working closely with public health officials to support self-isolation efforts for those who are sick, and community leaders are in daily contact with the Health Links.
The three affected settlements have entered self-imposed isolation, Waldner said, and limited their travel to essential trips only. Hygiene and sanitation measures have been strengthened in all communities with which he is in contact, communal activities have been suspended and protocols have been put in place to limit potential exposures during deliveries or collections.
“We recognize that our communities have a certain vulnerability because of our way of life,” said Waldner. “Everyone is on alert. “
Overall, Waldner said community members were concerned about the potential for the virus to spread and were doing their best to deal with it. The increased public attention has added more stress, he said, and there are fears of stigma.
“COVID has no borders. He really doesn’t care whether it touches a Hutterite community or if it touches another community, ”he said. “It’s something that concerns us all. You can’t help but catch a cold or the flu… it’s something no one chooses to have in their own life. ”
Waldner said at least 20 other settlements have restricted movement and are on alert for signs of respiratory infection.
“While there are no cases, there might be a tenuous or even no known link to the confirmed cases, they have decided in order to mitigate the risk, to reduce the risk, they will restrict travel. for the next few weeks and try to protect our seniors and anyone with underlying illnesses, ”said Waldner.
Roussin also alerted the public to potential exposure on three recent flights: Asiana OZ 0704 from Manila, Philippines to Seoul, South Korea on July 7; Air Canada AC 0064 from Seoul to Vancouver on July 8 (lines 26 to 32); and Air Canada AC 0296 from Vancouver to Winnipeg on July 8 (rows 21 to 27).
The risk to the public is low, public health officials said, but people on these flights are expected to self-isolate for 14 days from arrival and watch for symptoms. Passengers who are not in the affected seats should monitor themselves for symptoms and isolate themselves if they develop.
On Monday, the positivity rate for the five-day test was 0.83%.
Any future increase in cluster-related cases would not necessarily trigger the reintroduction of the restrictions as long as public health officials are confident the cases are contained and significant community spread is not occurring, Roussin said.
The fundamentals of physical distancing and hand washing must remain at the forefront, he noted.
“It’s a big change in our behavior,” Roussin said. “We have to stay home when we are sick, we have to maintain this physical distance and we have to realize that this virus is not yet over with us. ”
Danielle Da Silva
Danielle Da Silva is a general mission journalist.
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