As daily case numbers remained over 100 for the sixth straight day, chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin warned during his Monday COVID-19 briefing that tighter restrictions could be put in place later this week.
Last Friday, vaccine team medical lead Dr. Joss Reimer had warned that Manitoba is in the beginning stages of a third wave of the pandemic.
"Our contract tracing investigations show that people are holding larger gatherings in their private residences," said Roussin. "We’re seeing house parties, we’re seeing playdates, we’re seeing sleepovers. We’re seeing cases with many more contacts than we saw in the recent past and we’re seeing this contribute to the transmission of the virus."
He said this behaviour has been observed on previous occasions where restrictions were loosened. Another problem behaviour that public health has observed is people not isolating as required after travelling.
"We have those orders in place so we could get back to some of the things we need and want, but it just can’t be seen as a return to normal or else we’ll be right back into the position where we need to start implementing further restrictions and we may not be far from that right now given what we’ve seen in other jurisdictions," he said.
Possible new restrictions floated by Roussin included tightening rules surrounding private gatherings, an outdoor mask mandate and a stricter indoor mask mandate.
Another problem voiced by Roussin was that people aren’t getting tested for the virus when exhibiting symptoms.
He encouraged people with even mild symptoms to get tested, especially as results can currently be obtained in less than 24 hours in many cases.
"We’re seeing a lot of people with simply loss of taste or smell, we’re seeing people with symptoms such as diarrhea and no other symptoms," said Roussin.
Asked why he wasn’t putting restrictions in place immediately to stop what’s happening in other provinces from happening here, Roussin said more of Manitoba’s approach would be announced later this week.
"We have restrictions in place right now that can truly work and in most of the clusters we see, most of the outbreaks we see, most of the cases that have a lot of contacts, we see just haven’t followed the restrictions that are in place," he said.
Discussing the third waves hitting other provinces in Canada more heavily, Roussin said those provinces are seeing a greater proportion of people admitted to hospital needing treatment in intensive care units, longer stays in ICUs and younger people needing to be treated in ICUs.
At this point, Roussin is recommending that people wear masks even when gathering outdoors.
"Right now, it’s a strong recommendation," said Roussin. "But as in the past, we’re always reviewing our public health restrictions as needed."
The doctor did not have any further information regarding the ongoing outbreaks at Boissevain School, Boissevain Health Centre and Evergreen Place Personal Care Home.
However, Roussin said the situation was indicative of any place where the virus is spreading.
As of Monday, the province’s COVID-19 dashboard showed an additional case at the school, bringing the total number to 14 — two cases in staff and 12 cases in students. All students are currently learning remotely until April 23.
There were no new cases at the outbreak at the Boissevain Health Centre and Evergreen Place on Monday, leaving the total at two cases in staff members.
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