Province announces 35 more COVID-19 cases on Sunday, the second highest number in a single day since the start of the pandemic

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Public health officials announced the highest number of new COVID-19 cases in a day in Manitoba, with 35 new cases reported on Sunday.The peak, the second only to 40 reported on April 2 (and most in a single day based on Reconciled Data, which shows 33 on April 1) was met by a rare weekend press conference at the Manitoba Legislative Assembly with the Province’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Brent Roussin.

Manitoba’s total number of cases climbed to 542 and its number of active cases climbed to 182, the second-highest number of active cases reported since 193 on April 8, and the highest according to reconciled figures provided by the province, showing an earlier high of 163..

“We have been saying for a few days that these cases remind us that COVID is not over with us here in Manitoba,” Roussin said.

Roussin said he understood many Manitobans were anxious and scared, but said the province has been here before and reminded Manitobans that they are not helpless in the face of the virus.

“We have concrete steps we can take to reduce our risk,” Roussin said. “We did them, and most of us have continued to do them over time. But we need to get back to our focus on the fundamentals.

These include staying home in case of illness – even mild – practicing hand hygiene, social distancing, refraining from sharing items, etc.

And Roussin said that in cases where physical distance cannot be maintained, such people should wear masks. Despite this message, Roussin will not commit to making the use of masks compulsory in the province.

Of the 35 new cases, 20 of them were in the Prairie Mountain Health area and Roussin said the majority of these are linked to ongoing outbreaks in the area.

Roussin said seven of Sunday’s cases were linked to a Brandon company, which he would not name. He said that despite the cases linked to the unnamed company, there was no evidence that the virus was spreading in the workplace.

“However, investigations into the case are continuing,” Roussin said.

Roussin said these cases are currently self-isolating and that contact investigations are underway. Roussin said the company was going beyond public health recommendations, including having more workers self-isolate than necessary. Additionally, Roussin said the workers have been cohorted.

Public health, occupational safety and health, agriculture, resource development and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency are closely monitoring the situation, Roussin said.

Of the remaining 15 cases reported, 10 are in the Southern Health Region, four in Winnipeg and one in the Interklake East region.

While many of Sunday’s cases may be linked to known cases and clusters, Roussin said a small number of them were linked to community transmission.

Manitoba’s five-day test positivity rate rose to 1.45%, a significant increase from the 1.23% reported on Saturday.

Hospitalizations fell from three to six, including three in intensive care. Manitoba’s death toll remains at eight. A further recovery was reported on Sunday, bringing that total to 352.

On Saturday, the province carried out an additional 756 tests for COVID-19, bringing the total number of tests carried out in Manitoba since the start of February to 100,830.

HOW DID WE GET HERE?

Only a few weeks ago, the province had an active case. Today, Manitoba has seen sustained numbers, and record levels in some cases, of new and active cases that were present in late March and early April.

Why?

“You can see that, mainly, it’s related to a number of clusters,” Roussin said. “This is what happens when this virus goes into situations where there is potentially congestion or a lot of contact, we will see increasing numbers like this.”

Roussin said, for the most part, that it was contained in known contacts and known clusters.

HOW DO WE GET OUT?

Much of the reason the province was able to flatten the curve and reopen was due to restrictions placed on Manitobans during the early stages of the pandemic.

These are no longer in place, for the most part.

So how does Roussin hope to flatten the curve again without restrictions in place that are essentially forcing it?

“We have now learned the things we can do to prevent the spread of this without requiring these significant restrictions,” Roussin said.

Roussin said he did not want to return to the restrictions and noted that if they were to return to them, they would be targeted if possible.

That said, Roussin will not commit to making the use of the mask compulsory in the province on Sunday, a question he has been asked several times in recent weeks.

“(The masks) alone will not be the answer to this pandemic,” he said.

Roussin recalled the fundamentals.

“It’s critical that we get this message out,” he said, of Manitobans going back to basics to stop the spread.

[email protected]

Twitter: @scottbilleck

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